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.

what-if-i-told-you-meme

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.

the bitch is back (to work)

Hi, I’m Becca. You may remember me from such blog posts as, “I almost got gestational diabetes from a strict diet of sour patch kids” and “The Caesarian Section: 20 reasons why I feel like a complete failure of a woman”.

And if you don’t, that’s completely understandable.

I had to make a choice these past few months: neglect this blog, or neglect my cute little meat sack of a child. As you can imagine, the meat sack won by a landslide.

But fear not.

The bitch is back (to work, where I can blog on my downtime — don’t tell my boss).

I must have blinked or something, because apparently an entire year has passed and suddenly the meat sack (aka Liam) is 11 months old. What he lacks in teeth, he makes up for in drool — and is completely, utterly, the most majestic, hilarious thing that has ever emerged from my uterus.

cute baby boy

Liam can now crawl, pull himself up to stand, clap and wave on command, and has a diverse vocabulary consisting of mama, up, dada and a version of kitty that sounds a lot like spitting on the floor. He’s survived a terrifying hospital ordeal, a strict no-cheese diet and the east coast of Canada. It’s been a sleepless, jam-packed year, and I’m so grateful that I got to spend it with him.

This past week, my maternity leave ended and I officially rejoined the workforce. Just as I finally began to get used to zero adult interaction and completely giving up on my own personal hygiene, it was time to put on a bra, exchange my diaper bag for a snazzy H&M tote, and begrudgingly re-enter the realm of wage slavery.

first-day-back-to-work-from-maternity-leave-59872

Now I know you’re thinking, “But Becca, how do you manage to remain SO glamourous and put together in the wake of yet another complete shift in virtually every aspect of your existence?”

Stay tuned for the answer to this, a deluge of additional nonsense, and many more erroneous lines of questioning in the coming days.

ode to pizza (a return to dairy poem)

It’s been six long months since I said goodbye
To your ooey gooey coating, my darling pizza pie
Not only you my sweet, but all chocolate and cheese
No soy, cream and butter have brought me to my knees
But to get my boy well, I made a tough call
I put on a brave face, I gave up it all
It won’t be so bad, I thought with a wince
Oh who am I kidding, who’m I trying to convince?
At first there were tears, nearly every single day
How would I carry on? How would I find a way?
There could never be another, no bag of Daiya will do
No amount of coconut product could ever replace you
I thought of you daily, your warm drizzly centre
Your crust, tasty toppings, surely hell did I enter
I wanted to quit, oh I wanted to run
Back into your arms–this diet’s no fun
But I stuck it out, days turned into weeks
Weeks into months, yes count it, you freaks!
The day has finally come, I can’t believe it’s here
I get to hold you once again, I get to have you near.

pizza

that flicker

I never really wanted to be a mother.

I just didn’t think I had it in me–whatever it was. That thing that most women possess somewhere deep down that gives them the capacity to care for something other than themselves. My life was just too easy. Too fun. The cycle of self-serving, unapologetic alcohol-infused bullshit never seemed to end, and that seemed to suit me just fine.

But today, as I–in true Becca fashion–nurse an unpleasant hangover, I am inexplicably at peace as I ingloriously munch away on that last piece of humble pie.

I never really wanted to be a mother.

But on a warm day last fall, it was taken away from me very early, and I felt something shift. Maybe I did want this. Maybe this was my chance to be better.

I wrote this when I was six months pregnant, remembering very early on the terrifying few hours where I thought I may be losing another one.

mother's day

I’m not sure many people can pinpoint the exact moment where everything changed.

But I can.

It was the moment I saw that flicker.

Happy Mother’s Day.

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:

2015-03-25 15.39.36

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.

the other side of the line

It’s my morning at home.

The sunlight trickling through the curtains greets me with thunderous silence, followed by that unmistakable dull ache in my chest–my body’s cruel reminder that it’s time to feed my baby.

I throw the covers over my head and will myself to go back to sleep. Please, just let me go back to sleep until this is over.

Although I’ve slept an uninterrupted eight hours–something that seems so foreign and unnatural to me now–I don’t feel rested. I feel like I’ve been run over by a truck. Everything hurts. My mind immediately floods with a million worries, questions and of course, the trademark end of the world-laden woe those who know me best have come to love and expect. I thwack my pillow for good measure, just once. It feels a lot better than the wall I physically abused earlier in the week.

Not my finest moment.

But I can’t lay here forever. I’m on a strict schedule.

I have to relieve that dull ache every three hours, at least six times a day. If I have any hope of keeping the small dream alive that one day I’ll be able to naturally feed my son again, I have to keep going. Unfortunately, relieving that ache is an exercise in the unnatural, which makes me feel not unlike a dairy cow. However, its one redeeming quality is that it tells my body to keep making the food that ironically made my son so sick, so that we may have the chance again when he is well. I’m grateful for the technology, but knowing that it may be all for nought makes me want to quit harder than I’ve ever wanted to quit anything in my life.

But I don’t.

Instead, I drag myself out of bed, knowing that the decision to continue to express my poison milk is a commitment that will limit me harshly during my waking hours. It already feels all-consuming, painful and endless, and the very real possibility that in the end it will have been for nothing is never far from my mind. But in doing so, one thing is for certain: I will never look back and say I didn’t do all that I could for my baby.

My very sick baby who currently lying in a hospital bed across town.

A baby that I can’t pick up without hurting because his myriad of wires and tubes yank and pull and pierce into him as I awkwardly try to comfort him in my arms. It rarely works. And so I don’t bother much, anymore. I’m not sure I can express how much that part sucks, but I’ll try.

I’ve felt four very real, very different types of pain during the course of my relatively unremarkable adult life:

  1. The first boy who broke my heart allowed me to truly see what heartbreak was for the very first time, and I’ll always be grateful to him for it.
  2. Ten years later my father died, and I said okay–that’s it. That’s the worst pain I’m ever going to feel. There’s nothing worse than this.
  3. A year after that, I lost a pregnancy. Being excited for an entire future of possibilities and having them almost simultaneously ripped out from under you does not come highly recommended.
  4. That wall I punched last week. I don’t think my wrist will ever be the same.

But becoming a parent gives birth to a brand new kind of pain.

It draws a line in the sand.

On one side of the line sits every type of pain you felt before you had a child. The heartbreak, the loss, the physical pain you endured for having an incurable temper. Don’t get me wrong–that pain was real. It was real and it was raw and sometimes you’d wake up in the morning wondering how you’d get through the day. You eventually could. You always did.

But that pain on the other side of the line–that pain that creeps up on you suddenly without warning, that pain you truly can’t believe you’re living until you’re living it–you’d give your life to feel that pain on the other side of the line again.

Because before him, it was just me.

It was my heart I had to preserve.

It was my grief I had to work through.

It was my swollen wrist I had to put on ice.

But now he’s here, and he’s the one in pain. I’m supposed to protect him and I can’t. I’m supposed to be the one to make it better and I can’t do that, either. I can’t stop his pain and I can’t make him better, and that hurts so much that I’d lose a thousand more pregnancies and break a thousand more wrists if it meant that I could.

I don’t know when it will get better, or if it ever will. All I know is that I finally understand what parents have been telling me for all these years.

I hate when they end up being right.

2015-02-24 14.06.11