Sunday, August 30, 2015

Postpartum Self Esteem Hits (And How To Fix It)

I have never been the 'hot girl', and to be honest most of my life I couldn't have cared less. I was confident. I wore a bikini even though I was a size 14, I knew I was smart, driven, and many days I felt like a Phenomenal Woman.

Then I had a baby.

Now I'm super self conscious and unhappy with my looks. I've been trying to figure out what happened, why I've changed, and I think I've narrowed it down to these things...

I Haven't Lost All The Baby Weight
When you are pregnant so much focus gets placed on your looks. Of course most people are very careful to tell you how beautiful you are, but still - if you aren't used to your appearance being a main topic of discussion it is quite alarming. It's no surprise this becomes even more of an issue after you have the baby. I can't even count how many discussions I've had about my weight, and how much focus gets put on being back to where you were (or better than) before you got pregnant.

For the record, I added 40 pounds during my pregnancy, lost 35 in the first few months postpartum, and gained 5 recently.

Not Dressing Well
I always tried to look good when going to work or for evenings out with friends. I don't work or go out much anymore. The rare times I do, I don't have the same amount of leisure time to spend coiffing and primping. The result is my reflection looking kind of bla on a regular basis. I'm certainly not a total frump, but I just don't make the effort like I used to.

Compared To Other Moms
I feel like an adequate mom, and I'm not insecure about my ability to be a parent. But I do compare myself to other moms a lot. Online, at the mall, in my mommy and baby classes... there is always a mom doing absolutely everything better than me. No matter what it is there is always someone better.

Postpartum Body Changes
A lot of things change after a baby and many of those things are hard to come to terms with. Lucky me, I got the gift of postpartum acne. So while I can hide the stretch marks on my tummy, I cant cover up a face full of zits.

Negative Self Talk
I heard people mention negative inner dialogue before, and while I of course didn't always feel awesome, I never really thought horrible things about my body or image. Now I find myself thinking degrading things about myself numerous times a day. It almost seems like the more bad things I say to myself the worse I feel, and the more negative thoughts appear. It's a vicious cycle.

SO.... I don't have a grand life changing plan or an expert's advice, but here's what I am going to do about it:

Be Healthier
Screw focusing on the baby weight. I want to be healthy, meaning I want to make healthier decisions than I did yesterday. Any time I am presented with an option I want to choose the better one. I know this will do a tremendous amount for my confidence, and as a bonus my son gets a healthier mom.

Positive Playlist
I love singing along to some good tunes, so I figure if I make an effort to listen to positive self image music I will be changing my inner dialogue without even realizing it.

Get Professional Help
... With my skin I mean. I just learned that it can take up to a year for the pregnancy hormones to leave your body, and even longer if you breastfed, so I still have a ways to go before my levels normalize. But if after that time I still am having skin issues I am going to see a dermatologist.

Get Dressed Up Once A Week
It sounds like a meager goal but I figure if I get dressed up, and spend a good amount of time doing my hair and makeup once a week - even if I have no reason to, I will feel a bit better about myself.

If you are feeling some of the same things as me lets try and change together!
You can do it, and P.S, I think you are fucking sexy.

- Genevieve

Sunday, August 23, 2015

Hungover Parenting Strategies

We all know hangovers suck, but trust me, parenting first thing in the morning with a hangover is so much worse than you could imagine. After going through a particularly rough day recently I decided to share some strategies to dealing with your infant when you feel like a guilty dirty shameful excuse for a mom or dad.

Give Your Kid All the Things
You know all the things your child wants to touch but they never get to play with? Now is the time to give them to him. Let him play with whatever makes him the happiest and whatever keeps him occupied for the longest time so you can cry into the seam of the couch and try to pull it together

Saturday, August 15, 2015

Notes For An Expecting Dad

My friend, any day now your life is about the change in a big way. While I’m still pretty new at it myself I thought I could share a few thoughts from my first steps into fatherhood.

You will be overwhelmed:
There is a lot of new shit to learn all at once when you become a dad and there will be times when you don't know what you're doing. When your baby won't stop crying, then your wife starts crying because you guys can’t figure out why, just remember it happens to everyone. Ask the dads you know for advice, read a few of the many articles your wife will surely be forwarding to you, and take solace in that fact that far stupider people than us have been managing to keep their babies alive for millennia. You'll be fine.

You will see things that can't be unseen:
When you look between your wife's legs and see that head start making its way out, there's no coming back from that. The only consolation is that it is such a shocking scene that you completely forget about the previous context that region held. What you will see that day is not a vagina, it is a birth canal, and the two should never be confused for one another. That being said it's a truly amazing experience and, not to worry, it all goes back to normal once you're finally allowed to see it again.

Wednesday, August 12, 2015

Choosing My Family Could Mean the End of My Career

Being able to stay at home with the kids is a dream for many people. For most, the choice is financial; supporting a family on one income is not easy, and many can't make it work even though they want to. Because the end of maternity leave is nearing for myself and many of the moms I know, going back to work has been a huge point of discussion. It seems that most women I talk to or read about online really wish they could stay home with their kids, and not go back to work. So why do I not have this feeling? Why did I cry and feel like I was mourning a loss the day I resigned from my job?

With Terry and Deaner on BT Vancouver
Logically I realize resigning was the right thing for me to do, otherwise I wouldn't have done it. But it doesn't make it any easier. I must admit, the day I sent in my resignation I looked at my son, happily playing with his toys, and I resented him. It was his fault my career dreams were over. And I cried.

You see, the problem is I worked in a dying industry. I was a producer in broadcast TV and I loved my job. I worked hard, and I took pride in my career accomplishments. But during my maternity leave things took a turn for the worse in the broadcast environment in Canada. The CRTC brought in new regulations which reduced the number of hours each day Canadian programs must be broadcast, thus threatening many local shows. On top of this hundreds of people were laid-off in the past year at City and the CBC: this in an industry where jobs are already scarce. What this all boils down to is that I had a great job I loved waiting for me when my maternity leave was over, and because I decided to resign I may never find work in broadcast TV again.
Cleaning up pee from a 15 foot snake

I had many reasons for not going back to work, but the main ones were that my job was in Montreal and my husband and I decided to move to Calgary so we could be closer to family and he could have better work opportunities (he is an electrician). All the main TV stations exist in Calgary, and if I didn't have a child I would absolutely go apply to all of them and get my name on a temp or fill in list and work my way back up. However, because my husband will likely be doing camp work and will be gone for weeks at a time, I need to find employment during daycare hours. It's pretty rare to find a TV job between the hours of 7am-5pm Monday to Friday, and so I find a roadblock in the industry that I love because I have a family.

The thought of not working in broadcast TV again really hurts. I was making my way up a ladder that is hard to grab hold of. I was respected and was confident in my skills. Of course, things weren't perfect with my job, and I wasn't perfect at it, but I was successful and on my way to even bigger things. For me, work was something I enjoyed, and that I miss after being away from. The thought of being at home with my son as a stay at home mom does not excite me. I worry that I will be bored. I worry that I won't feel fulfilled.

Working my boobs off at Taste of Edmonton
I want to have personal successes that don't involve being a mom. I want to interact with adults again and have conversations that aren't centered around naps and poop and baby milestones. But what kind of job can I get if TV isn't an option for me anymore? I have no idea how any of the skills I have honed in broadcasting transfer to any other industries. I am a great producer. What the hell else can I do? And how will any employer who doesn't understand broadcasting be interested in hiring me? I guess going back to school and completely changing careers is a very real option at this point. But there is nothing else I want to do other than what I did. Sure, I can arbitrarily chose something that makes financial sense and works well in my new schedule, but it's hard to think about doing a job that I don't feel passionate about.

I really don't resent my son, even though I felt that way for a moment. It's not his fault I am in this position. This is a result of my own choices, and I will have to accept whatever my future holds. There are days I wish I could change things, but I know that ultimately my family is the most important part of my life. I just wish honouring that didn't mean having to give up such a big part of my identity.

The first days of BT Montreal

Tuesday, August 4, 2015

Mom Myths That (Thankfully) Weren't True

There are a lot of scary truths that hit you smack in the face when you are pregnant and have a baby. Things you never imagined doing or seeing become a reality. But there are other things people tell you to expect that just aren't true - or at least they weren't for me. Here are a few myths about having a baby that I am very happy weren't true.

1) Having A Baby Is Expensive
I know the cost will become more of an issue as my son gets older, but so far expenses haven't been too bad. Breastfeeding, while certainly having an emotional toll and causing you to eat a bit more, is free. There are countless mommy networks around every community with second hand clothes and play things, not to mention all the gifts and hand-me-downs from friends and family. Look on Craigslist or kijiji for some great used dressers/change tables, strollers, and cribs to offset some of the biggest costs.

2) Your Breasts Will Be Ruined After Breastfeeding
This myth really freaked me out. I have never had a lot going on for me physically, but my boobs have always been pretty good. Once I finished breastfeeding I nervously awaited my deflated, nipples-facing-the-ground fate. But you know what? It never happened. Yes, they are different than pre-baby, but they aren't bad. They are still roughly the same size, just softer. And you know what? I kind of like them.

3) You Won't Be Able To Travel
I get a lot of bug eyed stares when I tell people how much we have traveled with our son already. When he was a month and a half we took two weeks over Christmas and drove six hours away, and then flew to visit my husbands family from there. At 2.5 months we went to Mexico for a week and got married. Since then we have been on many more trips (some of them even solo - just me and my son). We have gone camping, and we plan to go again in a couple weeks. This all before my son is nine months old.
Now, I have a lot of things I could say about traveling with a baby, and if you have any questions please feel free ask me, but since that isn't the focus of this article I'll just give these tips: The younger a baby is, the easier it is to travel with them. I know it sounds crazy, but when they are still in the stage where they sleep anywhere - take advantage of it. And lastly, the more often you get out and go places, even when it seems scary and uncomfortable, the easier it gets.

4) You Won't Have Alone Time With Your Partner
I am insanely jealous of people with family close by. My husband and I happen to live in a city without anyone we know near us. If you have people you trust around you, take advantage of it. Go on a date night even if its just for an hour to the restaurant down the street.  While we don't have that option, at about 3 months my son started getting on a schedule where he went to sleep around 7pm. I was nervous about being on a rigid schedule at first, but to be honest it has been one of the best things for our marriage. Once the boy is in bed, we have a couple hours to ourselves; to talk or veg out on TV or even (once I was healed and ready) head to the bedroom.

5) You Have To 'Pump And Dump'
I like a good alcoholic beverage, and once my pregnancy was over I was really looking forward to being able to have a couple drinks. I had heard a lot about pumping and dumping (the theory that when you drink alcohol you need to expel the milk that comes down after and throw it away because it is dangerous for the baby to drink). I had a lot of questions when I first started breastfeeding, and after extensive research I found so much help reading what Dr. Jack Newman had to say. His research shows that not only is pumping and dumping literally pointless, but if you have a few drinks and feel good enough to drive, you are fine to breastfeed. His research goes into so much more depth than about just drinking, but if you want to read some more myths about breastfeeding click on this link to view great article from his team.

6) You Won't Be Able To Go Out With Friends Or Alone
I thought that once I had a baby I wouldn't be able to see my friends and go out for a girls night anymore. When your baby goes to sleep for the evening, and if you have a supportive partner or trusted family member, you can totally go out! Pump some milk for a bottle if you are breastfeeding and let someone else take the night shift every once in a while. Having some alone or friend time has been essential to my sanity, and has made me a better mom, because I end up missing my boy and can't wait to see him after I get a little break from the mom routine. 

What scary things were you told to expect about being a mom that just didn't end up being true?

Feeding the boy in Waterton National Park