Random mommy moments…

This is a short compilation of recent mommy moments that I feel the need to share with the world.

  1. My three year old still thinks that hairplanes depart from the hairport. Image result for hairplane
  2. My 19 months old son will randomly go up to dogs anywhere and start bopping up and down – dancing to an imaginary song in his head. Dogs usually love that.
  3. I spelled out to my husband, very quickly, that a friend is trying to get p-r-e-g-n-a-n-t and my 5 year old immediately asked – “Who is trying to get pregnant mommy?”
  4. My three year old came up to me and said “Mommy, I love you as much as pickles” then walked away. She doesn’t like pickles that much. Image result for emojis unamused
  5. My husband did the laundry which was awesome. My toddler wore my underwear on his head when someone rang the door and he came running up. Not awesome.
  6. My five year old exclaimed loudly, in public, “Mommy why is that man screwing around?” as she pointed to a gentlemen who was fixing a chair with a screwdriver.
  7. My toddler is frustrated that the TV is not touch screen. He can’t swipe anything. So frustrating for him. There are tiny fingerprints literally ALL OVER our TV screen.
  8. My 3 year old likes to watch TB and often tells people in random places “I love my TB.”  As people noticeably and justifiably back away.
  9. My 5 year old broke down today because it was so hot and said- “I am dehydrated mommy- are you trying to kill me? Hydrate me please, that is all I ask!”
  10. A magician at a small party asked the kids, what do you breathe out into the balloon- all the kids shouted “air” but my 5 year old declared “Carbon Dioxide!”
  11. My toddler keeps running away from imaginary people who are trying to tickle him. He then chases same and says “Tickle, tickle, tickle” I think he sees the unseen.Image result for emojis
  12. My 3 year old will sit down for breakfast and have a bowl of cereal then a bowl of oatmeal and then desperately ask “Do we have any more Eggos?”
  13. My 5 year old blamed mommy when she got in trouble at school, stating and I quote “My mommy made me this way. This is how I was born.”
  14. My toddler physically removes and carries really heavy items out of the pantry then cries because he doesn’t know how to put them down.
  15. When asked who she loves more, mommy or daddy, my 5 year old daughter proudly and confidently asserts “God”.

I can’t be prouder and they can’t be more beautiful in my eyes. Thank you Lord for blessing them. Please share your moments if you like!

Smartignani

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Random mommy stuff…

20160512_100159Some days I feel really accomplished and others…not so much. I have really enjoyed this maternity leave particularly because it is my last. It also helps that I sold my businesses so I am free to enjoy motherhood to the fullest extent.

Of course, there was that stint of anxiety and bout of despair when my mom was dying in the ICU (she recovered thank God) and since then, without fail, one of my three kids has been vitally ill on any given day. But overall, I am doing more enjoying than fretting and that is an accomplishment.

My life has drastically evolved since the third child. Ok, who am I kidding? It has been revolutionized. I feel like chaos can really be a way of life now. I sit back sometimes and I just laugh at the absurdity of everything. For example, last week on a Saturday, my eldest accidentally head-butted the baby which caused a stream of tears and a very angry cry while my toddler ran face-first into the wall and ended up with a bloody nose – all at the same time. This all happened in the blink of an eye. Everyone was crying. I was laughing hysterically, like an evil scientist who openly relishes the sound of children’s cries. Sometimes to ensure your sanity- you just have to laugh at it all. Everyone was fine and with some tissue paper for the bloody nose, a few cuddles and tickles for the head-butt injury and a gentle “It’s ok honey, it was an accident” – everyone was fine.

I wanted to take a minute and just say this… am I the only one who feels like I am back in high-school and trying to fit in when I go pick up my daughter from kindergarten? Parents can be really clique-ish- no? I was waiting outside today and I looked over to find two moms talking quietly. I waved and said “Hello” and it was an audible “Hello” not one of these mousey, shy “Hellos” – know what I mean? Anyway, one mom just gave me this contrived smile and the other ignored me altogether. Wow. Maybe I’m just not cool enough to talk to them. Maybe they are hating my new hairdo. Maybe I offended them with my strong and confident “Hello”… I don’t know. All I know is, I have a choice not to get too obsessed in wanting to be accepted because at my age- I don’t care what others think of me. I know that makes me sound awful but truly- if you are going to judge me and not even get to know me then it’s your loss- not mine. Because I honestly think I’m a pretty awesome person! There. Take that. On to more important things…

I am on a mission to shed the pounds I gained in my three pregnancies. I gained quite a few pounds so it’s taking a while. I’m close to starving all the time but I am too scared to stop because the doctor almost guaranteed Diabetes if I don’t shed the weight. I find it easier to remain on course when I think about my kids. I want to be there for their graduations, weddings, and maybe even for their own kids. I don’t want to be the old, fat mom who looks 20 years older than she really is. What will the clique-ish Lululemon moms at the school think of me and my fat “hellos” then- huh?

My eldest daughter is taking oral laxatives behind my back. I swear the kid never shuts up. I love it but I hate it at the same time. She’s so interesting and everything she says is adorable but when I’m trying to actually get her moving, it’s next to impossible. She is not a multi-tasker. She was gifted with the gift of gab. I can’t believe how much she talks. And here I was wondering if her language skills will develop because she wasn’t really speaking by the age of 2.5. Really? I shouldn’t have worried. I am hoping my middle daughter will NOT learn to speak until she’s 5. That way, I won’t have competing trance-talking going on. It’s too funny. I can tune her out and she will just keep on talking and yakking. Then she will stop sometimes and ask “Right Mama?” but I have to be careful. What am I agreeing to? So I say “Which part is right?” See? Sneaky, smart, strategic momma is at play here. I mentally pat myself on the back when she replies by reiterating the last phrase that needed confirmation. I’m in the clear. I  will either agree or correct her thoughts and then the droning will begin again. Sometimes, I drift away in my mind about my to-do list or a recent commercial I saw or how I need to cut the baby’s toenails because he is quite literally growing them out like some gross racoon paws and then I suddenly hear her say something like… “And then I’m like CRAP DUDE, why are you being such a donut and he says because you are short like a hobbit and I’m like I don’t even know what a hobbit is and then I walk away but my shorts are dirty because of the grass on my butt. Butt is a funny word. Did you know another word for butt is ash. Today I heard this big kid call his brother an ash-hole. That’s funny- right momma?”

Me: “No Sweetheart, Ash is not a nice word and it’s not funny. That boy should not talk to his brother like that. God wants us to be kind to one another and not call each other names”.

Her: “So how come daddy calls me a Hoggler and my sister a Donut and my baby brother Stinky?”

Me: “Daddy is just joking with you and none of those names are rude.”

Her: “Ok. Any way so today in school I….”

And on and on and on and on and on. Phew, close one. Note to self- talk to the hubby. Tell him the story- and laugh about it later!

My middle kid is temperamental, defiant and intelligent. Every trait she picked up from me. I’m not ashamed to admit the truth. She looks like me, she yells like me and most of all, she’s got this low, manly laugh like me! When I was younger, I would answer the phone and my voice was so deep, people would think they are talking to my dad. So it’s either my poppa sounds like a woman or I had the deep, vibrato voice of a man. Until now, when I wake up and try to talk, I sound like my husband. It’s ok, I’ve come to terms with this quirky attribute. Let’s leave it there. Maybe that’s why the moms at her school won’t talk to me? I must be confusing them with my manly, confident “Hello”. Oh well…

The baby is the best. He’s like a good book, I can’t put him down. Lately, my favourite thing to do in the entire world (which is hyperbolic at best since it’s not but let’s go with it) is making him giggle. Is there a better sound in this universe than a baby’s heart-felt giggle? If you say yes, then you are heartless or need to go get yourself a baby and make him giggle. Don’t hate- appreciate. Besides, I have to blow on his belly and tickle his feet then motorboat his neck in order to get the full-on giggle that can be heard down the street. It’s so much work, I end up sweating and only catching glimpses of his enormous, blissful, drooling open mouth and eyes that sparkle with laughter as well. The thing is, when you tickle a baby, you have to do it quickly and consecutively.They have such short attention spans that they will literally forget you were playing with them and just move on from said activity. Then you are left saying things like “Hello” and having them not respond to you… ahem ahem…like some people!!

Finally, I would like to state my horror at how sick the world is today. I’m not going to dig too deep or go into many details but suffice it to say, I’m afraid for my children’s futures. Pedophiles, mass shootings, addictions, mental unhealth, impoverished moralities, victimized abusers, and an endless cycle of evil begetting evil. I’m sure that such things existed since the beginning of time but everyday I wake up and there is another stark reminder that our world is sick. I am sure that everything bad is known much quicker because of social media and sometimes, one  just can not turn it off. I often wonder why people post all those negative things on their wall. Why not use your power to influence the friends on your list with positivism. We need more love – people. More acceptance and forgiveness. We need to set an example to our children. We need to show kindness and openness. We all bleed red. We all need to be accepted.

Except me and those moms. I’m over it. Really. Done and done.

Good night and God bless. And like Ellen always says- “Be kind to one another”.

Smartignani

New Year`s Resolutions

happy-new-year-2014-hd-wallpapers-1 Every year coming to a close is a reminder that we were ‘gifted’ with a new beginning. Many people have lost loved ones in 2014 and struggled through pain and personal battles that we cannot see or understand. In the same year, many others have reached the pinnacle of their careers, met their soul mates, married, became pregnant or birthed a child. Many children found a home whether with a foster family or through adoption. As for me… there are many challenges- some health related and some familial while others are professional. Any way you look at it, a year is a LONG time for things to happen and much of what we anticipate and fear can happen at any moment. So my post today is about gratitude and resilience.

Ever wondered how a person can go on after being struck by a horrible accident or injury? Ever wondered how people can smile through personal storms and battles? I have and I realized that resiliency is an inherent capacity to withstand all the bad and anticipate all the good.

I am suddenly aware of all the things and poeple in my life that are mortal and transient. Parents ail, children grow, jobs change, money is gained and lost, climates shift, friends grow farther away or closer together, circumstances evolve and my story is being written each and every day I breathe. My faith in God and His love does not fade nor weakens because in all of this I believe that there is a higher purpose for our lives and how we choose to live them.

I want to leave an impact, a legacy when I cease to exist. I always tell my husband that I would like to be “remembered well” when I die. But how does that happen exactly?

Here, I have compiled 10 new resolutions I will endeavour to accomplish in 2015. No matter what happens, I have nothing to lose and everything to gain.

A-Prayer-For-You1) I will pray more, praise more, worship more. I will realize the frailty of life and how in a blink of an eye it can all cease to be. I will recognize my mere existence on earth and treat it as a journey. I will be grateful for every breath given to me and every morning I wake up- I will be revitalized. I will ensure that my constancy is in the knowledge that nothing else is constant. I will fill my heart and soul with gratitude to the point of bursting so that all can see how amazing it is to be alive.

imagesCAWJ7Y372) I will love unconditionally. This task is challenging due to its magnitude. This one resolution is one of my life’s missions. In order to truly love others you must forfeit your own self-worth and the perceptions you constructed based on your years lived here on earth. You must release all prejudice and choose to see people for who they are not what they are trying to be. To love unconditionally means to sacrifice criticism for encouragement and deliberately blind yourself from context and circumstance. Nothing matters and nothing should affect your love for others. I aspire to have love as my new drug to which I will become hopelessly addicted- no boundaries, no limits, no reservations. Period.

family3) I will see my husband and children again. I will yell less and smile more. I will make an effort to enjoy cleaning up the mess my three-year-old makes instead of chastising her for it. I will let my infant feed her hair and roll in the play-doh if that is her heart’s desire. I will listen more to my husband’s whispered words at night before bed and take a special interest in how he says what he feels not only what he is saying. I will see my husband and children for the blessings they are to me and I will share with them the wonders of God. I will love them unconditionally.

Chrysanthemum4) I will see nature. I will make more of an effort to count the stars and appreciate the sunshine. I will build snowmen and sand castles. I will listen for the waves and the rustle in the trees. I will smell the flowers and curiously observe the bees gathering honey. I will enjoy the sensation of being outside, in the outdoors and truly take in what our world is providing us. Beautiful blessings of nature. I will enjoy the silence more and ‘Be Still’.

1451377_10153467659090224_180124569_n5) I will be a good example to others. Integrity, honesty, positivity and respect- all traits that I truly admire in others. I will be a beacon to those who are not willing or able to uphold values. I will speak out when there is wrongdoing and I will be courageous to stand up to peers, friends and my superiors when these basic human ethics are not demonstrated. I will keep in mind that I am far from perfect and exchange judgement for encouragement. I will give more to those in need and stop my car to help the person on the road whose car has stalled. I will stop and ask a stranger who is crying if they need anything from me. I will assist others when they feel alone. All the time. No exceptions.

1463376_10153501465515224_1660866369_n6) I will see silver lining. Everyone struggles. Bad things happen to good people. You can’t avoid some sicknesses, accidents, tragedies or pains. How I choose to react to bad things is what matters. I will choose to be more positive and see the silver lining. I will work on my patience and endurance. I will attempt to see the big picture and appreciate that everything happening is part of a bigger plan that will make me stronger, more powerful and more resilient. I will selectively ‘like’ and read the updates and stories that inspire me on the various social media sites where we are constantly bombarded. I will stop over-analyzing, over-calculating and overthinking everything. I will just be in the moment and smile at what’s to come.

comparison_wise7) I will stop comparing myself to others. There is nothing more time-consuming and fruitless that spending time comparing yourself to others. There are a multitude of individuals who inhabit our planet and they are all at varying degrees of wealth, fitness, love, success and so on. Constant reminders on Facebook and Twitter of what we don’t have does not help in my pursuit of personal fulfillment. I will no longer envy or betray the blessings I have been given in exchange for petty concern and frivolous anger. I will be inspiring to others without boasting my blessings. I will congratulate more, empathize more and bless more. I will demote my base feelings of jealousy and elevate my humanity. I will appreciate by praise those who give of themselves, those who serve and those who are living their lives with humility and impact. Instead of wanting to be as wealthy or as successful as others, I will only seek to be the best I can be without comparison or compromise. (Thank you fellow wordpress blogger tom.basson for your article on this and the photo: http://tombasson.wordpress.com/2013/01/14/why-comparing-is-stupid-and-how-to-stop/)

laughing8) I will laugh. Not just the giggle or fake laugh that we demonstrate when our superiors say something funny… laughing as in my belly hurting. I will locate the people who I can share laughter with and just put that on the menu. I will play more board games that would make me laugh and I will read more auto-correct fails. I will find new ways each day to share a laugh with my children or husband because at the end of the journey, you remember the stories that end with “we laughed and laughed until our bellies ached…”

10645270_10154814270765224_4395918206427828164_n9) I will be present…in the present. Nothing is more frightful than the inability to recall memories. Memories only become so because you remember the present. People who are struck with amnesia are afraid and lost because they can’t remember who they are or who the people they loved are either. So being present in the present is a blessing and a gift. We cannot move forward into the future without knowing where we are right now. The past is the past and it’s a great lesson in history. Now is amazing because we can still re-write history. We can make a change effective immediately. We can give of ourselves now. I want to stop looking at the future because I don’t know what tomorrow brings. I want to live now, laugh now and love now. I will put away my phone at home and when my daughter says “Mommy, look, see?” – I will not reply with “Eh, hmmmm, ok dear, that’s great” – no, I will ask questions and be sincere and say “Wow… what is that? Can you explain it to me? Do you like it? Well done. You are so smart!”

1909559_5032225223_5452_n10) I will make time for quiet reflection. Life is busy. Incredibly, unforgivingly, incessantly busy. I have learned that peaceful moments where I can contemplate, reflect and reassess can afford me the ability to make sound decisions and impeccable choices. I can regret less because I have given matters clear thought before proceeding. I am the most impulsive person you would ever know… so this resolution will be very tough for me. I will need to implement it though if I have any hope of making the other 9 come true.

Happy New Year to all of you. May 2015 bring you wholesome joy, endless blessings and a year of wondrous discovery and limitless hope.

Until Next Time,

Smartignani

When did that happen?!

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There is nothing more painful or exhilarating than successfully potty training your child. You feel like you won an Oscar or climbed the highest mountain. The sense of achievement you felt the day you graduated or obtained your first real promotion is no comparison… as if you did this all on your own. Then the stark realization smacks you upside the head that this is what your parents must have felt like when you did something great growing up.

I don’t think I can be a prouder mommy than when my little toddler goes – “Mommy, I nee’ to Pee pee now”. We rush over to the toilet, we pull down the pants and then… the sweet sound of freedom- aaahhhh. No more pull-ups, stinky messes, nasty blow-outs or wet pants. Sooooooooo exciting!!

I look at my toddler and see the little preschooler emerging and ask – “When did that happen?!” – hence the title. But seriously, when did she start talking in complete sentences? When did she start empathizing with me (“Awww, mommy, you are so cute- are you hurt?”) When did she turn into this inquisitive, intelligent, insanely happy child?

These past few months have been challenging but fun. I have been busy trying to re-energize my business and manage my staff that I forgot to see the little changes in my big girl along the way. This morning she woke me up a little earlier and I spoke with her and played with her. She surprised me with how much she’d grown in the past three weeks. She knows which mitt goes where. She can put her boots on the right feet on her own. She understands that letters makes sounds. She know how to sing “A,B,C,D,E,F,G, next time sing, A,B,C,D,E,F,G” (and repeat) and she counted to 20!

I am in awe of how like her father she is becoming. It is really a good thing I love him so much because she reminds me so much of him. Her mannerisms, her thoughtful moments, her sweet affection and even her expressions. No surprise since she spends majority of her time with him instead of me.

I must confess that I am also tremendously enjoying my baby too. She shows me affection in her own way. She likes to be held at night and to sleep in my arms. Sure, it makes it tough for daddy to put her to bed when he is alone with her, but there is no stronger bond and no better feeling that having her fall almost instantly asleep when I carry her and rock her. She likes to hear me whisper to her and sometimes she just strokes me with her little, tiny fist. I feel especially blessed in those moments.

In the mornings, she is the happiest little baby I know. She just plays and rocks herself and flaps her little arms like wings. Her smiles and giggles are so contagious that she just subliminally compels me to pick her up so we can snuggle and play. Her demeanor is so different than her big sister. Her moods are so much milder and she is patient, calm and very stubborn!

I love them both 100% but differently. I can’t live without either of them and I am just so full of emotion when I see either of them hit a milestone or learn something new.

Between the one baby rolling and the other one peeing in the toilet, I feel like my heart can just burst with pride right now.

Until next time,

SMartignani

Multitasking Mommy

 

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So for those who know me, you know how busy I can be. I have varied interests and obligations and I thrive on being constantly and consistently booked. I don’t know why but that is what keeps me going (I sure don’t like that mommy in the image though… I wish!)

I am not complaining at all because I was blessed with so many gifts. This is one of those rare posts where I will side-step the sarcasm and defeat my natural inclination towards humour by counting my blessings.

To contextualize, two Octobers ago, I attended a wonderful feel-good session by an amazing guest speaker called Isabelle Fontaine and she told us an effective and unforgettable story about how she leveraged the feeling of gratitude to feel happy after a painful experience in her life.

 

So I am not taking this blog lightly (although my ulterior motive for this post is to explain why I haven’t posted for a long time, not an excuse- just an explanation).

Here are my blessings:

1) A God who is gracious, merciful, long-suffering and plenteous in mercy and compassion. And a Church that keeps me disciplined, deliberate in my faith and dedicated to the Lord (thank you SMSV).

2) A yummy hubby who loves me and spoils me. He cuddles me without asking and smiles my way when I need it most. How blessed I am with your love.

3) 2 beautiful daughters who appear to be surprisingly full of big personalities and vivacity.

4) My mom, dad, brother, sister, sister-in-law, nieces, nephews and parents-in-law (and Mike- ha ha) who support me, trust me and apparently find me worthy of their love.

5) An amazing business called Oxford Learning Centre with amazing staff and equally incredible families.

6) My best friends who supported me through the years and continue to be the solid splash of shining stars in the night sky of my day-to-day shenanigans.

7) My colleagues at work who are strong, beautiful and courageous- inspiring me to always be more than just good enough.

8) An awesome job at the Government of Canada that awaits me when I return from Maternity Leave. (The maternity leave itself is a blessing because I get an entire year off… I know my neighbours south of the border get only 90 days. Can you imagine leaving your baby so soon. My heart goes out to you- move to Canada!)

9) Every moment and every breath that I get on earth to live my life, cuddle my loved ones and realize my dreams.

10) My Car. I love my car. Oh and  thank you Youtube for teaching me how to knit.

Honestly, I think that is my top 10 list so far. There is so much more but I have to say the things above and the people mentioned do keep me pretty busy!

Until next time (which hopefully will be sooner than this time),

SMartignani

Perks of Parenting

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Here is the thing. The truth is being a parent is not all that bad. There is a silver lining to the sleepless nights, the irritating whining, the endless crying, the anxiety, the nasty poops and the interminable temper tantrums. I will not even mention the incessant screaming, embarrassing sounds and scents or the countless hours spent coaxing, rubbing, carrying, bouncing, singing, humming, gurgling, rasberrying, silly face making to appease/please/calm/restore/distract/heal/put to sleep/make’em laugh/discipline/show them you love them.

Where was I going with this? Oh yeah, the silver lining. Ok. So here is a list of some silly things you get to do as a parent that you could not do before (at least in public):

1) Your cartoon movie collection has now exponentially increased and surprisingly you stocked it with some classic movies that we all know junior will not even understand yet (Transformers? Voltron? Pink Panther? Felix the Cat? really??)

2) You have come to terms with the difference between what “messy” looked like before you had kids and now. A toy here or there and a book lying around your nice living room (where you greet guests) is not messy at all. As opposed to pre-children when you would dust, clean, mop and vacuum. Now we are lucky if we don’t trip over the tiny wind up car left on the floor by the stairs… there it is, I was looking for you car.

3) You realize now that naps are not a luxury but a necessity…for you. Not the kids.

4) Farting in public is so much easier now that you can blame it on the children!

5) Spit-up does not smell very bad after a couple of hours. It has a natural baby-je-ne-se-quoi scent to it that makes people lean in closer and nuzzle you.

6) Baby powder ain’t just for kids… fun fun fun for the whole family! We find remnants of that stuff in every orifice of the house afterwards!

7)  You don’t really need to hang out with anyone you don’t want to hang out with for extended periods of time because junior is going to get hungry/tired/manic/restless/sleepy/gassy/thirsty/sick… you decide on the excuse because we all know that is exactly what it is.

8) You realize that your true friends are the ones who will love you and your kids even through the stage of TEETHING when your child turns into Dr. Jekyll.

9) Moms, you look at yourselves in the mirror and feel good about how thin you are compared to when you were pregnant… the little hanging fold of skin is superficial. Bio Oil makes it disappear, trust Dr. Oz!

10) You never appreciated being alone with your spouse/friends more than when you can drop the kids off at the grandparents/baby-sitters and go out finally… there is an adrenaline rush that occurs accompanied by feelings of euphoria for the temporary freedom. Seriously though, you love your kids but everyone needs a little break dude.

11) You have an excuse to get to Church a little late… and leave a little early… and eat those yummy sandwiches first.

12) You develop a new appreciation for left-over, pre-digested food and candy and juices of all kind. Everywhere you go, you seem to be finishing your child’s plate/drink/sandwich

13) You have made up the words to at least three nursery rhymes/Christmas Carols/Songs/Hymns… like seriously… who knows all the words to Frosty the Snowman?

14) You are getting to be a master at skipping pages in a long storybook without your child noticing…

15) you are memorizing by heart all the words to Dr. Seuss books

16) You are definitely checking the time every 15 minutes when you get close to bed-time and you are secretly planning what you will do in the two hours from 8 pm to 10 pm after the kids sleep. So many exciting things to do, shall I knit or take a bath or cook tomorrow’s meal or catch up on the last episode of Big Bang or just, oh look its already 10 pm and zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz

17) You most likely have your phone ringers off after a certain time as to not awake the kids so you really don’t talk on the phone much.

18) You recognize now how vital daycare is…no matter the cost… we will stop eating if it means 8 hours of peace and quiet!

19) You find yourself wondering the weirdest things before you go to sleep like why is the alphabet song is the same tune as twinkle, twinkle little star and who invented Sophie the Giraffe and why on earth you didn’t…zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz

20) After a crappy day doing whatever it is you do, NOTHING and I mean NOTHING is better than getting a huge, sloppy, wet kiss from your kids or a genuine smile from your infant.

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If that’s not the silver lining, I don’t know what is!!

Until next time,

Smartignani

Jelly Bean’s Journey

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It is time for me to narrate the journey we took as we welcomed Jelly Bean a.k.a Elise to our world and our family. This is no light reading and you may need to grab a cup of tea or coffee before you continue reading this lengthy and detailed blog entry. Be forewarned, this may incite some strong emotions in you.

I started blogging so other moms can relate, react, and generally learn from my experiences. I read other mommy blogs as well so I can learn from them too.

A Brief History:

In my first experience of becoming a mommy, I was disappointed and sad that my FIRST infant was swiftly snatched away from me to the NICU where she had to remain for 5 days in order to gain weight and be released back to us. I had severe preeclampsia in my last pregnancy and I gained an incredible amount of weight. I was induced for two days before being c-sectioned and after all the pain and misery, I was distraught with post-partum depression and the void that my newborn left in my room as she was rushed to the ICU. I was unable to announce her birth to our family or nurse her for two days. I was unable to hold her or have my husband join the other fathers that were walking the hallways to put their babies to sleep. 5 days later she came home and all the pain and agony was washed away by the joy and the hope she exudes everyday until now… as a gorgeous toddler.

Elise’s Journey:

There is much I want to cover in this piece but I will spare you the minute details for fear that you will think me incomprehensibly traumatized. I recall every second and every emotion as a mother but I will try to narrate as an observer so that you can get a clean view from the outside.

On September 19th, we dropped our little toddler to daycare early and checked in at the hospital. After the nurses pierced my veins with the IV and prepped me (which means asked me to undress and wear the lovely, couture blue hospital gown that is incessantly opens in the back). I was on stand-by for a 10 o’clock C-section but they got me in early. The anticipation was mounting because once again we decided to not know the gender and I knew that this pregnancy I did not have high-blood pressure and that the baby was at least 6 lbs. Which boded really well for my hope and dream to have the baby carried out  by my husband back to our room so that everything can be ‘normal’ and I can be given a better opportunity to try and breast feed my newborn.

After a nervous and somewhat brief pain in the back from the spinal, I was laying on the table when my husband came in wearing the blue scrubs given to him by the nurses. He was sterilized and amped to meet our new baby too. I said a prayer in my heart that all goes well and just lay there asking my husband questions and conversing casually while 6 or 7 people got to work at opening me up and extracting my organs and the small, wild child that was rocking my insides for the past 9 months. I cannot describe the deep sense of pride that I felt giving my husband our second child or the amount of joy at being able to withstand all the pain and agony of pregnancy leading up to that pivotal point in our life.

I was convinced that this time, this baby and this pregnancy were different. Everything will turn out perfect and yet deep in my heart, in the black depths of my soul, I hoarded a secret dread that something was going to go extremely wrong. This feeling of foreboding was a constant thorn in my side and it manifested itself in my dreams and waking hours. I experienced several small anxiety attacks which I brushed off as normal hormonal imbalances and standard pre-delivery jitters.

Elise was announced at 10:17 am and scored a 9 on the Apgar scale. She was feisty and the nurses even called her a drama queen which made me laugh. Everyone commented on her extremely long fingers and toes. She was 6 lbs. 5 oz. at birth and I couldn’t even wish for anything more. I insisted that my husband go get her but they were busy cleaning her and readying her. I was feeling the same sense of anxiety as before but this time it was overwhelming. I was nauseated by it which led me to be occupied with my constant need to be sick that I didn’t hear the first time one of the nurses said “She is grunting”. It didn’t register. My husband was given our daughter who equally mesmerized him as our firstborn and I was able to see the grouchy little wrinkled face of my darling little angel. My C-section was just about to wrap up and we were minutes away from the scene I played over and over in my mind… I will be wheeled out to the recovery room with my husband holding my baby at my side as he takes her to show the grandparents waiting anxiously in the room.

Then it happened again… she grunted.

My husband called the nurse over to confirm the noise being expelled from my daughter’s chest to which she immediately reacted by carrying Elise to the NICU where, I was told, she will be kept under observation for one hour to assess her breathing.

Not again.

But one hour, I can deal with that. Fine.

I was in the recovery room where I was willing myself not to give into the powerful urge to sleep. I awaited my husband’s sporadic visits that would relay to me any tidbit or update about our new baby. He kept saying that they are just observing her breathing. One hour later, I was moved to my room and he came in and told me that it can take up to 6 hours.

5 more hours until I can smell her, hold her to my breast or whisper to her how amazed I am at her gift to me- making me her mommy.

I was unable to get up to visit her so I relied heavily on my husband to share every detail. I fell asleep tormented that I was unable to hold her and awoke to the news… she will not be leaving the NICU for at least 24 hours. Elise had fluid in her lungs that was prohibiting her from taking deep breaths and she needed the oxygen they were providing her. I was crushed, Patience and prayers were all I had left and the first was exhausted by the mistakes made while the latter was weakened by my debilitating recognition of my fears being actualized.

Please read the next part with an understanding that I am a mother who needs to vent and warn other moms of what can be. I write this free from malice. I simply state what I experienced,

A Tough Journey:

I visited my baby as soon as I regained some form of feeling in my legs. It was the only highlight to the searing pain I felt in my abdomen as a result of the foot long cut made on me hours earlier. I asked my husband to haul me into a wheel chair and take me to my baby. I needed to be with her and see her. It was all a recurring theme from my first delivery and I was not taking no for an answer. He complied and I was wheeled to her little cot situated in the back of the dark, sterile and sombre Neonatal Intensive Care Unit. She had many tubes attached to her with two different monitors and several other ‘leads’ that measure her heart beat and her breathing. She was taking very shallow, quick breaths and seemed unable to catch her breath even with the CPAP (Oxygen tube) that was attached to her face. The mask on her nose seemed too small and did not sit right on her tiny little nose. It often crept down to suck in the top lip and at times I wondered what this machine was designed to do at all, it seemed quite ineffective. I was informed that she may have swallowed Meconium which is the yukky stuff in my belly. The doctor in charge put her on antibiotics because he thinks it is an infection. I was told that sometimes it takes up to 72 hours for the breathing issues to resolve on their own (which was incorrect because I learned later that something should have been done after 8 hours). I was repeatedly told that they are waiting on her, a day old baby, to resolve her own breathing issues. Levity was attempted through the joke that boys usually take longer to resolve this particular issue and that she was behaving like a boy. I kept hearing the nurses joke with her that she needs to stop “misbehaving” and start “breathing properly”. I was insulted and incredibly enraged by these words and uttered whispers to my newborn.

I patiently waited to see if my baby will “resolve” her own breathing issues but deep in my heart I knew that she would not. Something needed to be done but what? I am not a doctor nor do I have any information at all about what these things mean.

That was Thursday. Friday was more of the same bad news. She was still not breathing or “behaving”. She was still on the CPAP and she was being given glucose through her IV to nourish her. I was asked to pump so that they can dip a Q-tip into the colostrum that I pumped and wet her lips with it. I was still unable to hold her. Friday night I was at her bedside pumping with my mother-in-law when Elise stopped breathing for the first time. The nurse said it was because she was pushing hard to have a bowel movement. She notified the pediatrician on duty and alerted us that if this happens again, the doctor will come see her. They were trying to take her blood. I left at midnight and demanded that the nurse awaken me if ANYTHING happens. I wanted to be there if she decides to stop breathing again.

At 2 am, I opened my eyes and found Elise’s nurse in my room. She told me that she “desatted” again and that the doctor came in to see her. I took my pain killers and anxiously waited until their effect can somewhat dull the extreme pain in my abdomen. I rolled out of my bed and painfully walked over to my wheel-chair. They had placed me in the furthest room away from the NICU so I was to half roll myself and half walk towards my goal while heavily leaning on the chair. No one offered to help me, no one thought to move my room so I can be closer to my baby who just stopped breathing TWICE and needed me by her bedside.

I finally arrived at my destination and asked, politely, to see the doctor. I was talking to my daughter’s attending nurse but the nurse sitting behind her playing Soduko at the computer quickly replied without looking at me and said “She is busy in the Emerg”. Apparently my daughter’s inability to continue breathing was not an emergency and I had to wait. I informed them that I would wait but the nurse clearly told me that she will only page her if anything else happens. I WAS SUPPOSED TO WAIT FOR MY DAUGHTER TO STOP BREATHING AGAIN TO SEE THE DOCTOR!

What?!

I stayed by her bedside until 5 am. She was fine. Labouring to breathe but all vitals were ok and still she was taking shallow breaths. I was completely and utterly exhausted and finally gave up on seeing the doctor. So I informed the nurse that I will make the trek back to my room but if anything happens yet again, I want to be there BEFORE anything is done.

Funny enough, I was speaking to my husband the night Elise was born and he was not happy with the progress or lack thereof that was taking place with her in that NICU. He even told me that he is giving this specific hospital until Sunday then he will be requesting that Elise gets moved to a different facility. This was really frustrating him and it struck a deep fear within me. I was unable to shake the feeling of pure and utter mistrust in their care for the remainder of that fateful night. This goes to show you that you MUST FOLLOW YOUR PATERNAL/MATERNAL GUT INSTINCTS because he was right!!

At 5:45 am, my daughter stopped breathing for the third time. I rushed to the NICU and waited for 45 minutes while the doctor finished consulting with Sick Kids on the phone. She finally came to speak with me and inform me that my baby girl was simply tired of breathing. What a profound notion… and I say that sarcastically.

I was incensed and I told her that I knew this would happen and I don’t even hold a medical degree. I asked her what the next steps were and she informed that they would have to intubate her. I had already did some research on Google (it was all I can do at that time of night prior to this conversation) and attempted to ask some informed questions like “Will you intubate her nasally or orally?”, “What are the risks?”, “Will you sedate her?”, “Have you done this before?”.

I felt no confidence in their ability to intubate her successfully but what choice did I have. I pulled a chair and sat about 12 feet away from my baby’s tiny sized cot that was now surrounded with the head nurse of the NICU who was cracking some jokes, the Respiratory Therapist (who was chewing gum, open-mouthed which I think is not sterile nor code compliant), the doctor who was too busy in Emerg to see me the first two times and the attending nurse who informed that swallowing meconium was a fact of life and everything will be fine.

15 minutes into the procedure I was politely asked to wait outside until they were done. I called my husband and asked him to make arrangements for our toddler and come to the hospital right away. I make this next statement with all the firm belief I possessed at the time… I actually thought that our daughter was going to die.

He arrived and joined me in waiting for the nurses to come out and tell us what is happening with the baby. I saw them changing shifts and finally saw the attending nurse leaving to go home. She came over and asked if anyone came to get us and talk to us yet (she was supposed to do that right after the procedure) and we replied “No”. So she told us that the procedure was complete and to go in.

We did. Our daughter was in a deep sedated sleep. I asked how it went and they said it was done. Sick Kids were on the way and they were going to decide what to do next. A respiratory therapist and a nurse practitioner show up with an elaborate 300 lbs. piece of equipment attached to an Isolette that is clearly designed for transporting sick babies. I am told that she needs a higher level of care and that the Sick Kids coordinator is deciding on the hospital that she will be transferred to. Sick Kids and Mount Sinai are too busy and they don’t have beds. She may be sent out of region. Maybe even Kingston. Ottawa or London, Ontario. I go back to my room because they will need at least 45 minutes to find out.

I only slept one hour that night so I break down. I cry like the world is coming to an end. I was experiencing the most gut wrenching moments ever which will haunt me for a long time. My husband tells me to try and relax but I am devastated.

I recall the my first experience in the NICU and the mom who had gestational diabetes and had to have her baby transferred to Sick Kids. I recalled the empathy I felt for her. I cried just as hard as she did even though it was not my baby. Now I was that mom.

We are informed that she is being transferred by ambulance to McMaster Children’s hospital where she will be receiving level 3 care. I get discharged early and head home to repack my bag and quickly rest before we head down to Hamilton, Ontario for as long as needed until we can bring our baby girl home.

We arrive at 6 pm on Friday night and we are informed that many tests have already been done on Elise. The NICU is leagues above and beyond the first one. The level of care, professionalism and atmosphere spoke to me instantly. I felt like the nurses were proficient and competent. Every half hour, a nurse, respiratory therapist or doctor would approach us and give us updates. They kept us informed and helped us secure a room in the Ronald MacDonald House across the street for $12 a night (my next blog will illustrate how amazing THAT experience was- they need their own shout out for being awesome to us).

We return to the hospital and they ask me to pump because they have attached a feeding tube to my baby girl and she needs my milk. They give me the entire Medela pumping kit and a sterilization bag (at no cost, where as the previous hospital charged us). They were consistently positive and confident that Elise will be fine very soon. THEY FINALLY LET ME HOLD HER after 5 days, I was smelling her hair and feeling her against my skin. I was in awe of her little body next to mine as her breath fanned my neck and I felt her little tiny heart beat moving her chest up and down. It is indescribable how the wait crystallized that moment and made it a million times more special.

I can’t describe the tumultuous roller-coaster of emotions I have experienced up to that moment when I finally felt the sudden release of worry that I harboured in the depths of my heart. I just knew that all will be well. And from that moment on… everything changed.

Within mere days, Elise was improving. Her breathing was even. They extubated her on Sunday morning. She was breathing with very little help from the CPAP machine. I was informed, indirectly, that it took them 4 times to intubate her and after all this, they used the wrong size tube which the RT referred to as “trying to breathe through a straw”.

I decided at the time that I need to focus on the incredible journey that my child was making. I was going to keep my mind on the amazing health care that Elise was getting and her obvious fighting spirit.

I was blessed with calls, texts and visits from priests, friends, family and co-workers. Many people needed constant updates which kept me busy and increased my cell phone bill considerably. I was starting to feel a tentative dependency on the NICU and the positive nurses who lived up to their job descriptions and “nursed” my baby girl back to health. I was told on Tuesday night that we need to check out of the Ronald Macdonald house because they would put us in a courtesy room for parents and release Elise to us for the night so we can call on them if anything happens.

It was a fantastic night. I held her all night. I let her sleep the entire night on my chest. Matching my breathing to hers. I was too elated to sleep and I was never happier to lose so much sleep at night. Every time she woke up, I was awake with her. I would smile at the little noises she would make and I found every little movement she made impossibly sweet. I missed my toddler so much and I was so anxious to bring Elise home and be with both my girls.

We were discharged with Elise on Wednesday, September 25th and we rushed home to pick up our firstborn from daycare.

We were home.

We were thankful.

We were finally a complete family all in the same space, together.

Hold your loved ones closer. Tell them you love them. Hug them and let them know that they alter your life. I can’t tell you how much more I appreciate my girls and husband since this bitter-sweet experience.

I will cover how my toddler reacted to her baby sister in another blog. For now I leave you with one final thought…

You are never given any experience you cannot handle. Raise your chin up from the misery and look around you. You are surrounded with people who love you and care for you and only through the hard times will you see true friendships shine. I am so grateful for those people in my life who asked, who cared and who were in constant contact offering words of wisdom, comfort and reassurances. Thank you for your prayers and for your love. We felt it from Hamilton and we are ever grateful.

SMartignani

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