Well, while it isn’t (too) late to get into the change from 2017 to 2018, I thought I would share some thoughts from a very life-changing year: my year on maternity leave which is ending soon as I go back to work next week!!
In the early days of 2017, I finished work, giving myself two weeks of vacation before my due date. I took to doing things I love (cook!), waddle to appointments, and try to relax and rest as much as possible. The latter was a bit difficult as the little passenger I was growing was beach-ball sized. Sleep was oh-so-uncomfortable, that I usually ended nights propped up with pillows on the couch.
The due date came and went. Being with midwives, I had a fantastic team who listened to my desires and didn’t pressure me to get induced labour. Since I was born three weeks late back in the day, I felt pretty sure that our little one might also decide to incubate a bit longer. In the intervening time I went daily for acupuncture and tried the various teas and tinctures that are suggested to help naturally induce labour. Ultimately, I think the baby made the final decision of when to arrive (though the extra-spicy Indian food we had that final fateful night may have helped) and it was nearly two weeks later that we welcomed our son to the world.
We hadn’t chosen to find out the sex, feeling that it was truly one of the last great surprises you can enjoy in the world, and I’ll never forget when CZ was born. The crew of our midwife, the doctors, nurses, and various students seemed more enthralled with immediately finding out the sex and enthusiastically proclaiming we had a son than Ewan and I did – I think we were just exhilarated and exhausted with all we had been throughout my labour and now were realizing we actually had a new little member of our family.
Thoughts like that seem old, and yet crystal clear like they were yesterday. I remember the grey weather Toronto had been having. The smell of a newborn and the wonderment of it all.
At this point, a week away from starting work, I feel as though time has played a trick on me. It felt as though I was pregnant forever, and yet, the past year on mat leave has flown by. How can it be that CZ is almost one year old??
To ring in this milestone, I thought I would share a list of some of our epiphanies and anecdotes of this past year:
- I know I have so many blessings in my life. Being a Canadian is truly something to be thankful for. And the fact that we have 12 months (that can soon be extended to 18 months) parental leave is a treasure.
I am so grateful to have had this year to see our son grow and develop and be there when he (and I) need it. I have to admit – going back to work full-time and really only seeing him for a couple hours on weekdays makes me a bit anxious.
- While it’s not the case for all babies, or our little guy we had a huge learning curve about sleep in the beginning. I blame the term “Sleep like a baby” – I was completely under the impression that babies just sleep and that it’s easy-peasy. Turns out we had to put a lot of effort into getting our man to sleep. When I look back at the photos from the early days I can only see how exhausted we ALL looked!
- In 2017, I lost my last surviving grandparent, my ‘Dyedda’. I am so happy that he got to meet Calvin and see him three times over the course of last year, including at his 90th birthday party. It means so much to me that CZ got to meet his great-grandpa, and while he likely won’t remember those visits, we have so many pictures and stories that I can’t wait to share with him.
- One thing that parenthood has opened my eyes to is the amazing network of friends I have. Our friends in town fed us, and friends from all over Canada mailed packages of hand-me-downs. And once CZ was born we were again spoiled with new-baby gifts. But what I have loved most is my network of mom-friends who have regularly texted asking how I was in my post-partum life. In my pre-kid days, I think I may have connected with friends, perhaps sent flowers, but nothing like the show of love people have given me. It’s definitely a karma I want to pass on.
- Mom-instinct is a real thing, and sticking to my guns when it comes to our son is of the utmost importance to me.
- Pushing a stroller is an eye-opener. It makes you so aware of the accessibility of your surroundings, and gives you appreciation to those who require accessible infrastructure to just live a regular life. With this winter being the snowiest I’ve recalled since we’ve lived in Toronto, I have also become a frequent 311-caller regarding residences that don’t shovel their walks! While a good workout, it is very difficult and frustrating trying to push a stroller in deep snow. In our neighbourhood, homes generally sell at over a million dollars, so I think owners can easily cough up the dough to get someone to clear their sidewalks if they aren’t so inclined. Ugh. Rant over.
- We travelled to our hometown (Calgary) for the month of August which was a great time to be with family and see so many friends. CZ did a decent job on the planes there and back, and our arms got a huge workout since he refused to sleep and wanted to be bounced.
- I am sure it is the case in every city, but I was so pleased to find out how many free baby-focused programs are on offer in Toronto. We’ve made good friends through a new mom group and regularly went to babytime. I actually already miss those regular sessions and seeing like-aged babies develop just as CZ has.
- Pre-baby I was a bit of a snob when it came to seeing baby snot or dirty diapers. Somehow I now don’t even bat an eye when a monster blowout happens. Same goes for Ewan who had joked when I was pregnant that he would not do diaper duty. He is a master when it comes to dealing with diaper disasters.
- Some of the best developments this past year have been the cheesy smiles, waving good-bye, clapping, babbling, scuttling around, and standing up. How does this little guy know how to melt our hearts?
- We’ve somehow navigated the terrifying world of childcare and waitlists and CZ is enrolled and going to a daycare with the best teachers. I was so anxious that he would be bawling the entire time, but so far he is all smiles all day, or so we are told. While I would love not spending thousands of dollars a month for the care (ugh Toronto!), it is what it is, and I am grateful he is at a place that I feel comfortable with, knowing that he will get the stimulation, care and love that I think he deserves.
- There are so many opinions out there about everything related to child rearing. I think the greatest lesson has been to do your own thing. I found it so helpful asking friends and relatives on what they did, but ultimately it was what CZ determined and we have just gone with his lead and what he needs.
Becoming a parent has been thrilling and terrifying. I know we will make this next chapter work, as I go back to work and we deal with all that comes with it. Life has completely changed. Ewan and I have been together for 18 years and somehow that span seems so long ago now that we have this little person in our crew. I wouldn’t change a thing, and I am excited to enjoy the here and now with a positive outlook to what may come down the road!