7 things i failed to do before my baby turned one

Right before my son was born, I was a straight-up manatee. You could typically find me crying over the discovery of a new stretch mark or eating cold, leftover cannelloni with my bare hands like some sort of deranged gremlin.

Man.

Those last few days of pregnancy: not glowing.

being-pregnant-sucks

Hey, don’t get pregnant

But one year ago today (two days after the above photo was taken), my sweet little babychild was carved out of my belly and my foray into the bizarre world of motherhood began.

I bet you thought I was going to take this opportunity to bore you to death with an emotional tribute to the most adorable baby on earth (I’m not kidding though–he actually is the most adorable baby on earth and all other children are total garbage), but I’m not. Y’all know that ain’t my style, anyway. Besides:

  1. Shit’s lame, and
  2. Literally nobody cares

Instead, I thought I’d bring some hard-hitting realness to your Friday with my own personal spin on a popular mommy blog theme: Ten Things You MUST DO Before Your Baby Turns One and Learns How To Unlock Your Phone and Butt Dial Your Ex.

Still not familiar? Okay, here–I looked them up for you. Huffington Post did this one. BabyCentre did this. And Babble did this.

So, how realistic are these things?

Let’s find out.

7 THINGS I FAILED TO DO BEFORE MY BABY TURNED ONE

1) Get Fit You Big Fat Pig:Take A Post-Natal Exercise Class
Oh man, this is already the best. Okay, look–full disclosure. I actually signed up for a series of mommy-and-baby-yoga classes when Liam was about 10 weeks old. Disgusting, right? Quick–ask me if I’ve ever taken a yoga class in my life. Go ahead, I’ll wait.

NO. NO I HAVE NOT.

Mercifully, these classes didn’t exactly demand that you perfect Pungu Mayurasana or anything (yes, that is an actual yoga pose that I looked up, also known as the Wounded Peacock). They were more of an opportunity for mom to do some light stretching and get out of the house.

But that’s just it. Even 10 weeks in, getting out of the house with a baby was still a frantic ordeal. I arrived late and frazzled every time, and the worst part was I didn’t feel relaxed, or “zen” afterwards. Liam had no idea what the hell was going on during these classes, and I think it goes without saying that I was in no better shape than when I started. I was still fat, awkward and cranky. Wounded Peacock, indeed.

What is yoga, even?

2) Find A Babysitter So You Don’t Get PPD
The nearest grandparent lives 500 kilometers away (that’s 310 miles for my one American subscriber), and I haven’t befriended any teenagers because quite frankly, they scare me. I understand that having a baby means no more drinking until your Uber driver has to pull over so you can throw up on the side of the road, but if I don’t get a break soon, I’m going to start cutting myself.

3) Take Your Kid To The Library, You Degenerate
Confession time! The last time I set foot in a library was for my prenatal class over a year ago. That’s right: I HAVE NEVER TAKEN MY BABY TO THE LIBRARY. Not once. But his dad just installed a bookshelf in his bedroom while I double-fisted wine and leftover Halloween candy, so that’s pretty much the same thing.

baby-bookshelf-DIY

“I have no idea what I’m looking at here.”

4) Throw Your Baby In A Pool And See What Happens
Okay–again, full disclosure. I also did the baby swimming lessons thing. But I’m going to explain to you why it was also a massive failure that in no way benefited me, my baby, or that cesspool of a public pee tank.

First of all, the instructor was a 19 year old college bro named Bo, Zack, or equivalent. Affable, nice kid–but with absolutely ZERO understanding of how babies work, how a baby swim class should be taught, or even the correct lyrics to The Wheels on the Bus. He was a complete fish out of water (pun intended), and if it wasn’t for my white-hot rage at his abject incompetence, I would have felt sorry for him.

Secondly, I should have waited. Liam was barely four months old when I decided that yes, he’s absolutely ready to be snapped into a baby lifejacket and sent paddling downstream. I shouldn’t have pushed it. The poor guy was still working on his basic head/neck control, and here I was CIA-style dunking him like a power-hungry Guantanamo guard.

Finally, Liam peed in the pool every single time, and once I accidentally got pool water in my mouth and had to take a mommy time out. Swim diapers do NOT prevent baby urine from seeping into the pool–just a friendly public service announcement for the next time you decide to head on down to the old community centre to do a few laps.

baby-swimming-lessons

Spot the soaking wet, petrified baby clinging to my shoulder for dear life

5) Draw Up A Will Because You Live In Sin
Just because I hate the idea of marriage doesn’t mean my child should be exposed to the cruel possibility of becoming a ward of the state should both of his unwed parents tragically perish.

Okay, so that’s not exactly true, but I did some research and found out that common-law partners in Canada don’t have the same rights married couples do when it comes to estates–which quite frankly, is complete bullshit.

*fast forward to 15 minutes later*

I legitimately just called a lawyer and set up an appointment. Blogging: helping me sort out my life since 2014.

6) Join A Playgroup And Exacerbate Your Already Crippling Social Anxiety
Now I know what you’re thinking–hey Becca, you’ve got such smooth blogger swag. I bet you’re a hit at parties.

But truth be told, I’m fairly awkward in real life despite my captivating online presence. It’s easier to hide behind a screen and make self-deprecating jokes about being an unfit mother than it is to engage socially with others about the frequency and volume of spit-up.

I’ve avoided playgroups for that very reason, thereby depriving my child of a welcome change of scenery and valuable social interaction.

At least he has his kitty friends to keep him company.

7) Do Something For Yourself And Make Sure It Isn’t Exercise
Please refer to my above rant about my lack of babysitting services. I think my leg hair can be braided at this point. I don’t even remember what being alone for more than 10 minutes feels like. But even more outrageous–can you believe that one of these blogs actually had the audacity to suggest that ‘entering a race’ was something you could “do for yourself”?

Something I do for myself: eat jumbo packs of KitKat bars while sitting alone in my car in the driveway.

Something I don’t do for myself: run a f*cking marathon.

This has made me viscerally angry. To calm down, maybe I’ll book a massage because THAT IS ANOTHER THING YOU DO FOR YOURSELF.

cat-massage-funny

Okay, so sure. I failed at at LEAST seven things this past year. But you know what? I also kicked ass in a hell of a lot more.

I really hope people don’t take these blogs too seriously.  Yes, there were some reasonable tips. But not all of us have the means or capacity to run marathons, go on lavish holidays or literally beg someone who isn’t grandma to babysit.

And that’s perfectly okay.

Did your baby smile at you today? Then congratulations–you’ve failed at nothing, mom.

Now go get that massage.

Happy birthday, buddy. You're the best thing I've ever done.

Happy birthday, buddy. You’re the best thing I’ve ever done.

i changed my mind about having a baby and i hope that’s okay with you

I used to be in favour of the death penalty.

Whoa.

This is a little heavy for a Friday, no?

Don’t worry. I’m not about to have a capital punishment debate on my baby blog. But yes, I used to support it. And then one day, I had a serious discussion about the moral, ethical and socioeconomic implications with a friend, and I started thinking about my reasons for backing it.  I invested the next few days into reading as much as I could, and striking up some heavy conversations with some unlucky friends.

At the end of those few days, I realized that my previous reasons no longer made sense to me. They just didn’t feel good deep down in the pit of my stomach (presumably where my conscience lives, I don’t know, I’m not a doctor).

So I changed my mind.

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Changing your mind is rad. It’s how we learn and grow. I mean, I used to believe that being a loud-mouth, intolerable alcoholic was an acceptable way to live your life. Today, I believe that slightly less.

Progress.

I also used to not want children. In fact, I was very open and adamant about that, to the point of it being obnoxious. But truthfully, I never liked kids–and not just because kids were the fashionable thing to hate on in your 20s.

I was just never really that comfortable around them.

I guess I never gave them a chance, much like high school math. Save the one or two arbitrary babysitting experiences in my gawky, gap-toothed teenage years, by the time I reached technical adulthood, I was about as experienced with kids as I was with boyfriends.

Spoiler alert: I had 0 boyfriends in high school.

You can fact check that little diddy with all the cute boys who looked directly through me in the hallway for four years, or who nicknamed me “Becky Foreskin” in grade 9 music class.

(Before you question me any further on that moniker, you should first know that my last name is Ford–a name that teenage boys somehow believed sounded more or less identical to the technical term for the tip of the male genitalia).

Moving on.

So ya–kids. Never really liked ’em. Never really understood ’em. They always made me kind of uneasy, and they knew it. It’s like when a cat knows you’re deathly allergic to it–it just rubs up on you more.

most-interesting-cat-in-the-world

Child-minding was not my calling, and kids weren’t my bag. So naturally, I figured motherhood was also out. I spent the majority of my 20s partying, traveling, and generally being an insufferable waste of space. Kids never crossed my mind.

Then one day I woke up in my 30s and revisited my reasons for not wanting kids. A lot of them no longer made sense, much like my views on the zippy zap chair. And although I’ve grappled a lot in the past with the misguided notion that changing your mind makes you a hypocrite, I’m at peace with it now.

mom-baby-park

For what it’s worth, I also finally feel pretty comfortable with this thing.

So what if you used to believe one thing, but now you believe another?

It’s perfectly okay.

Hell, I used to go to church every Sunday, and I turned out just fine.

that-look-you-give-other-atheists

Sorry, mom.

some day

Three years ago, in the early morning hours of April 6th–my father, Colin George, died.

He’s really gone, I remember thinking. I’m never going to see my dad again.

Quite fiercely, and for a time, I envied those who take comfort in the belief that death isn’t real. That some day, when this life is over, we are all reunited in eternity.

Then, four months ago, in the early evening hours of November 27th–my son, Liam Colin, was born–and that envy was gone.

2014-11-29 23.00.40

I didn’t quite realize it yet, but as I lay awake that first night peering at my son through that small pane of glass, I no longer needed to envy the belief in that mythical some day.

Because my some day is now.

I get to see my dad every day. I see him the moment Liam wakes up and smiles at me. I see him in the way the corners of his big, dark eyes crinkle. The way his pointy little ears stick out from his head, just a little. And that’s just the beginning.

My some day is today.

It’s every day.

And it’s forever.

dad babyliam

one of these things is not like the others

Oh, the inadequacy.

I guess you can say it all started with class picture day in kindergarten 26 years ago.

kindergarten

There we were–Mrs. Moran’s star pupils–all decked out in our Sunday best.

Except, well, me.

While most of my peers donned frilly new dresses, matching sweater vests and crisp collared shirts, I on the other hand was adorned in a fashionable thrift store red turtleneck and grey corduroy pants–the pièce de résistance obviously being the brand new (brand new was a big deal to me as a kid) velcro shoes from BiWay.

biway

Remember BiWay?

Growing up, I was shy and weird and different. I was always playing catch-up when it came to physical and social norms. For example:

  • I was a big time nerd. I spent recess in the computer lab
  • Being the shortest girl in the class relegated me time and time again to the front row (the least cool row) on picture day
  • My mother insisted that I always wear my hair in a stylish ponytail, because you know, lice
  • I’m fairly certain that most of the birthday parties I was invited to were out of pity/due to my mother threatening other mothers
  • School dances: LOL
  • One time, the girls in my class gave me a She’s All That makeover at camp, as part of what I can only assume was some sort of dork outreach program
  • In the eighth grade, the cutest boy in the class told me that my hair “looked good down”, and I nearly passed out and banged my head on the desk

Mercifully, I grew up in an era where schoolyard violence wasn’t really a thing, and bullying was limited to the cool girls who could afford new clothes and dance lessons shouting, “Rebecca smells!” across the locker room.

bullying

I didn’t, by the way.

Growing up was really isolating, so I guess that’s why I’m such a pushy, impatient new mom now. Sometimes, all I can think about is how badly I want my son to catch up. To be just like the other kids.

All around me (and by ‘all around me’ of course I mean ‘via photos of everyone’s children on Facebook’) babies his age–and sometimes younger–are reaching milestones before him. Milestones like lifting their heads more than two inches off the ground, deliberately holding their toys, and rolling over unassisted.

This guts me, and the rational side of me knows how stupid that is. I need to cut him some slack. After all, the poor sod spent nearly the entire month of February lying horizontal in a hospital bed. He’s going to be a little behind. But the emotional side is a lot harder to appeal to.

Almost as hard as resisting the urge to capture his adorable little fails on camera.

For example, here is a series of him trying, and failing, to lift his gigantic head off the ground during tummy time:

tummy time

Here he is demonstrating how to improperly use his sit-me-up chair:

2015-03-11 10.37.06

And here he is doing half the work of rolling over:

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I recognize how unfair my frustrations are as I write this very sentence. I know he’ll get there. He’s had some setbacks, but truthfully, if he can make it through 22 days of hospital hell, he can make it through anything–particularly his mother’s neuroses.

2015-02-26 21.52.18

Does it look like I care that I can’t hold my head up yet?

Now I’m going to finish this entry the way it began–with another humiliating anecdote from my youth.

One warm day late into my eighth grade year, I was beckoned over by the cool girls at recess. I don’t really remember much of the exchange, but as I walked away, I heard them joyously proclaim to everyone within earshot that, “Rebecca has a pretty face, but no chest.”

Oh ya?

girls

BOOM. And that’s BEFORE I had my baby, ladies!

Seems like things worked out okay for me. I have high hopes for you, kid.

I’ll be waiting for your call, Maury.

365 fetus-filled days

I’m surprised I even remember my name after spending 22 consecutive sleepless nights in the hospital with a sick baby, but shockingly, I woke up this morning remembering that exactly one year ago today, I found out I was pregnant.

oops

Does ‘pregnant’ mean what I think it means?

A lot has happened during this particular journey around the sun for me including, but not limited to:

  • Feelings of regret over destroying a case of beer two days before I took a pregnancy test
  • Additional feelings of confusion, inadequacy, fear and panic
  • Three more pregnancy tests, because sometimes pee can be wrong
  • Tears (the petrified kind)
  • The beginnings of a lifelong cycle of cat neglect
  • That thing where you think you’re going to throw up but you don’t, which is almost worse than actually throwing up
  • Eating habits that would put my aunt’s trash compactor to shame
  • Missing wine more than I miss seeing my own feet
  • A series of “bump day” mirror selfies that no one will ever, ever see
  • Giving birth to an actual human child–a feeling so surreal that I can only describe it using the phrase, “holy shit, man”
  • A terrifying three week hospital ordeal where said child nearly died (please don’t ever make me talk about this again, I hate you for even bringing it up)
  • Experiencing this weird, tingly sensation I’ve never felt before deep down in my chest–oh ya, unconditional love for another human being
  • NO SLEEP LIKE EVER

That’s it.

That’s all I have to say.

That, and how happy I am that this 13 pound diaper destroyer came into my life.

liam today

I’ve made a lot of mistakes, kid. You’re not one of them.

Doesn’t being a mom suck?

I could easily sit here like an unoriginal, boring blob and list all the things I miss about being childless.

It would be a tome. It would literally (yes literally, Shane) take you an entire day to read through. But since most of you (unless you’re a fellow lady of leisure) don’t have that kind of time (nor do you really care–you’re only reading this blog because you’re at work, procrastinating like you usually do) here is an abbreviated version:

  • That thing that happens when your brain shuts down for ~8 consecutive hours and you awake feeling refreshed and rejuvenated–sleep! That’s it
  • Constantly referring to your cats as your “furry children” and thinking people find that adorable when secretly they kind of pity you
  • Intentionally booking a trip to Varadero over Christmas because you’re a godless heathen who is fiercely avoiding travel because YOU ARE ALWAYS THE ONE WHO HAS TO DO IT
  • Taking a “What kind of candy best represents your personality” Facebook quiz because you’ve always thought you were a ‘Snickers’, but lately, you’ve been thinking you’re more of a ‘Big Turk’
  • Casually experimenting with recreational drugs (if you’re my mom and you’re reading this just kidding mom and also, I call bullshit because all my mom knows how to do online is check her email)
  • Your flat(ish), scar-free tummy and award-winning rack
  • Not planning for the future because probably your liver will only last another two-to-three years at this rate
  • Only having to wash vomit out of your own hair
  • Casually throwing on your once-a-week load of laundry (it’s cheaper on weekends but usually this has to wait until Sunday night because you were too hungover on Saturday)
  • Guilt-free Coach bags and two-for-five-dollar Lindt chocolate bars at Shoppers Drug Mart (as you have probably already guessed, I still buy the chocolate)
  • Napping for pleasure and/or due to boredom and not for absolute, desperate necessity
  • Exceptional personal hygiene
  • Getting blackout drunk on a Thursday night because you’ve nicknamed Thursdays “Thirsty Thursdays” and you think you’re clever

This weekend, I attended a wedding. As you may recall, I generally loathe any celebratory event that brings others joy. However, as these nuptials were those of one of my oldest friends, it was a prime opportunity to genuinely have a great time, get embarrassingly drunk and knock over a decorative tree.

However for me, sobriety was mandatory (that’s not to say I didn’t have a great time, it’s just that alcohol makes everything so much more fun), as this well-dressed young man was tagging along:

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Who brings an 8-week old to a wedding? Someone who doesn’t have a f*cking babysitter, that’s who.

Near the end of the night as said young man was screaming bloody murder outside the reception hall, another friend who was keeping me company (and who was several drinks deep, bless her), noticed my look of sober panic and frustration and with great sympathy in her voice, said, “Doesn’t being a mom suck?”

wat

As I processed her question, undoubtedly posed in an innocent, lighthearted way, I instantly knew the answer.

Yes, I’m running on very little sleep.

Yes, he’s been screaming like this for 15 minutes and I can’t get him to stop.

Yes, I’m 10 pounds too heavy for this dress.

And yes, I am stone cold sober at an event where the second-most sober person is currently dancing on a chair.

But no, I told her, smiling through the ear-piercing screams, being a mom definitely doesn’t suck.

Sure, it’s not all sunshine and rainbows, and sometimes I spend the one shower I take every three days crouched with my knees to my chest, sobbing uncontrollably. More times than I care to admit last night, I even thought about throwing back a couple shots and letting someone else worry about the baby. Everyone wants to hold a baby, right?

But today, I woke up without a hangover. My iPhone, ID and credit cards were all accounted for and I still had a fistful of cash. Most importantly, I woke up without the usual morning-after foggy panic as I try to piece together which humiliating thing I did the night before.

But best of all, instead of spending the morning hugging the toilet and writing apologetic messages to everyone I offended the night before, I got to spend a lazy Sunday morning with this sneeze pot:

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And that didn’t suck, either.

The first six weeks: a story of survival

Word to all new moms and new moms-to-be: unsolicited parenting advice is a rite of passage. Chances are that if you’ve just popped out a baby, or are very close to the worst day of your ladybits’ life, you know exactly what I’m talking about.

Everyone and their cat has something to say. And I hate to tell you this, but most of the time, we pretty much have to grin and bear it.

Good news, though. Not all of it has to be unsolicited, and some of it can actually be pretty valuable.

One of the most honest–and what turned out to be, completely accurate–truths bestowed upon me in the very early days postpartum, was from a young, professional mother of two who seriously has it all figured out. Already more successful and put-together than I’ll ever be, she knew exactly what was coming, and she wasn’t about to sugarcoat any of it.

“The first six weeks,” she said sagely, “are all about survival.”

sur·viv·al
noun
a new mom simply making it through the day.

I know I’m running the risk of sounding like a combat veteran–someone who would legitimately know more about actual survival than my privileged ass ever will–and for that, I apologize. But survival is really the only way to describe how I’ve managed to get through the last six weeks without a serious mental and physical breakdown and/or a dead baby on my hands.

This newborn thing is the most difficult thing I’ve ever had to do, and I once had to sit through a church sermon trying not to giggle every time the pastor said how Jesus was “hung”.

You can't threaten me with hell, I'm an atheist

You can’t threaten me with hell, people. I’m an atheist.

I know my tale of “survival” isn’t unique. But this adorable–and still very much alive–barf bag is six weeks old today, and I’m so proud of how far he’s come.

Chunker has a clean bill of health and is smiling up a storm. He is more awake, more active, and has finally figured out the whole oh hey, this is what a boob is for! thing.

Although sleep continues to elude us all, the fog has started to lift.

Survival mode is winding down, and it’s time to take the advice of another wise mom of two:

“Enjoy him. And don’t wish away the time.”

liam mom selfie

This girl was asked how much she loved being a mom. Her answer may shock you!

Oh, hi.

I was gone for a minute, but that’s because I was busy having–and subsequently, trying not to kill–a baby.

This adorable, healthy little fart factory was born six days late at 7:30pm on November 27th by unplanned c-section.

Introducing Liam Colin

This fart factory is also named Liam.

It’s been three weeks since Chunker (as I like to damagingly call him) was untimely ripped from my womb, and I am just now finding the time to write about it. I’ve started–and then abruptly stopped–this entry so many times, mostly due to the following:

  • abject laziness
  • savage abdominal pain due to major surgery
  • a once-every-three-hour feeding schedule
  • bloodcurdling infant screams
  • fecal explosions
  • painful nipples
  • leaking nipples
  • urine trickling out of the back of a diaper and onto my lap
  • sour milk spit-ups
  • not showering
  • taking a moment to neglect my two cats
  • tears (mine)
  • shovelling food into my mouth whilst hovering over the sink
  • resisting the urge to throat punch every person who insists that breastfeeding is the most natural thing in the world
  • NO SLEEP LIKE EVER

I feel I must warn you–if you were expecting an entry that gushes about how amazing being a new mom is, how rewarding parenting has been so far, and how absolutely adorable my baby is, you’ve stumbled across the wrong Mommy Blog.

This newborn shit is no joke.

newborn

I’d like to take this moment to assure all three of my subscribers that I don’t have postpartum depression. So far, my infant is very much alive and relatively un-drowned in the bathtub. It’s just that my life for the past 23 days has been the most sleep-deprived, unglamorous emotional blur, that I am unable to be anything but brutally honest.

So when a dear friend asked me the other day, “So are you loving being a mom?”, I couldn’t lie to her.

I couldn’t reply, “Yes, I am loving every single feces-filled moment!”

I couldn’t honestly respond by saying, “Absolutely. This is all so beautiful and natural–I was born to be a mommy!”

I couldn’t look my beautiful, innocent friend in the eye and tell her, “I wouldn’t trade these sleepless nights for anything in the world!”

Because I would. I would trade them so hard.

Selfie

Me, essentially.

Instead, I responded to her very simply–and because I’m too exhausted to be anything else but–I also responded to her very honestly.

Without skipping a beat, I looked her right in the eye and replied, “It’s okay.”

facepalm

It’s okay.

What kind of monster says that? Is there something wrong with me? Why couldn’t I say “yes”?

I’m not sure what kind of response my friend was expecting, but if she was taken aback by my lack of enthusiasm, it didn’t show (bless her heart). I felt guilty afterwards, wondering if perhaps I should have rehearsed a response that was a little more heartfelt and sentimental, though monumentally less sincere.

Don’t get me wrong. There are moments–many, actually–where I am almost unable to handle how much I love this helpless, chubby little human. I will even admit that when it’s just him and I alone, his sweet face has brought me to tears many times. Watching him grow and change over the past three weeks has been truly fascinating, and sometimes, I can hardly believe that he is mine.

Especially after a loss, I am so grateful for him. He is my rainbow, and I am so happy that he is here, and that he is healthy.

feels

But I don’t love when he screams and there’s nothing I can do to make him stop.

I don’t love how difficult it’s been to simply feed him–a process that I naively thought was going to be the most easy, natural thing in the world. Spoiler alert: IT ISN’T.

I especially don’t love the diapers, the spit-ups, the sleepless nights, and take-out for dinner four times a week.

So no, I’m not loving it.

But him–this dependent, squirmy little snore machine, this adorable tiny human that completely relies on me for literally everything 24 hours a day, 7 days a week–him I love.

And it will get better. And easier.

One day he will look at me and smile.

One day he will take his first steps, and say his first words.

And one day, someone will ask me again, are you loving being a mom?, and things won’t be so new. I won’t be as overwhelmed, sleep-deprived, or as flailing and fumbling as I am now. And while I know none of this will get any easier, I do know feeding will get better, sleep will come, and one day in the not-too-distant future, I will be less frustrated, less stressed, and much more confident.

Until then, kiddo. We’ll figure this out together (and with a little help from wine!).

wine