Living “Off the Grid”…sorta

At four weeks postpartum I packed up my family into our four-door VW Jetta and hit the road for what’s turning out to be an unforgettable summer. 

It started as wishful thinking. Never did I think we’d actually be able to spend Oliver’s first few months living on our families private island in the middle of Lake Ontario. I was excited to have my due date at the start of summer so a) I wasn’t a massive sweaty blob and b) so we’d get to spend time at the cottage visiting the family. We knew we wanted to come at least for a few weeks… but a few weeks turned into 4 months and here we are! We’ll be on the island until Thanksgiving with a little trip to British Columbia to see my family sandwiched in between now and then. 

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This is my husband's family "cottage"

I’m constantly reminded that what I’ve taken on as a brand new mom is what some people would describe as their own kind of hell. And to be perfectly honest living on an island that is only accessed by boat (& that’s weather dependent) with a 4 week old crying infant would have been my brand of hell only a few short months ago, I must admit. It’s as if motherhood has turned me into a…well…MOM! I’m spending four months with my in-laws with no clean drinking water, spiders, and an outhouse. At two in the morning on any given day of the week you’ll find be rocking a baby to sleep in one hand and with another I’m killing spiders like it’s going out of style. 

What has kept me sane? Here’s what keeps me going on the daily:

1) Coffee.

2) Sharing baby duties with my husband. If I did the night feedings, I get to sleep in and vice versa. 

3) Hobbies/Alone time sans baby. Sometimes my hobbie of the day is sleeping. I’ve also taken up quilting to pass the time.

4) EXERCISE! Everyday I either go for a run, swim, do yoga, or stand up paddle board. 

5) That adorable little baby with his little cheeks and that giant smile he flashes me! 

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Surviving (trying to, at least) Parenthood

The moment that little boy came into our lives, life as we knew it was changed forever. I instantly knew I was exactly where I was suppose to be in life. It was an amazing feeling that I have been striving to find for a long time.

Of course there are moments when my sanity is being tested. I knew being a mom wasn’t going to be a cake walk. I’ve had to really pay attention to myself and my needs because those days I spend alone with baby while daddies at work I can easily forget to eat or even go to the bathroom(!).

For my healths sake, I need to take time for me. Becoming a mommy means I make sacrifices but my health can’t ever be one of them. On the days I know I will be alone I wake up an hour before my husband and shower, throw on a load of laundry, have my coffee, shower and do my hair. When I feel prepared and ready to take on the day, everything just goes smoother.

I know baby Oliver feeds off my moods or at the very least when he’s fussy and my patients is running thin, it just make things that much more difficult. Babies moods depends on my moods.

HAPPY MOMMY = HAPPY BABY

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Body Anxiety: My Changing Pregnant Body

 

There’s a lot other women and doctors don’t tell you about pregnancy. I think if they did tell women all the gory details, no one would dare have a baby. Also the list of unpleasant body changes and emotional turmoil a woman experiences is far too long.

By far the most challenging thing I’ve had to endure so far is weight gain. I’m sure it makes me sound like a terrible mom and an awful woman but the weight gain has got to be the most depressing thing on the planet. I understand it’s for a good cause, but it’s still painful. I’ve lived my whole life trying to stave off weight gain and in one fell swoop I’m supposed to just embrace my ever-expanding waistline.

Within the first two months of pregnancy, I ballooned like a damn beached whale and I was getting comments like, “I’ve never seen someone show so soon” and “You must be having twins”, but then my waistline miraculously shrunk back down. After much googling, I realized it was completely normal for bloating within the first trimester and then for it to subside.

As of now though, none of my pre-pregnancy jeans fit and any tight t-shirts are insanely mid-drift barring. OH, and all my workout clothes look like sausage casings, so that makes it challenging to look at myself in the mirror at the gym. But it’s all for a good cause, right?

Not to mention the fact that in 2 weeks, I’m suppose to fit into my WEDDING DRESS for our second wedding party in Cuba this Christmas. All the while my mom is in my ear about her vegan, clean-eating, challenge and all the weight she’s loosing. I told her how it must being coming off her and on to me and she lectured me about how it’s going to be hard to lose the baby weight once junior is born.

When I first began this beautiful pregnancy journey, I was constantly nauseous and couldn’t stomach being in the kitchen, eating vegetables, or eating anything other than carbs without dry heaving. Now that I’m able to stomach a wider variety of things, I’m actually doing a lot better with the weight gain and I’m starting to feel it even out a bit more and stabilize. For a few weeks there I could only stomach bagels and cream cheese, popcorn, eggs on toast, and salt and vinegar chips but now my day looks like: Eggs on toast, frozen fruit and soy milk smoothies and stir fries and veggie filled pastas. I’m still not able to stomach too much meat which is fine by me. I’m taking lots of vitamins to supplement the lack of protein in my diet.

All these feelings I’ve been having have been teaching me about selflessness. This is the first time in my life I’ve been making major sacrifices for someone else. I’m very much ready for all these changes but it still doesn’t make the blow any less shocking and depressing.

PS: if I didn’t make it absolutely clear, I’m very much in love with my beautiful bundle of baby love and I wouldn’t change any of this for the world.

announcing…..Mrs. McDougall

Where have I been? You know… just off getting married.

I feel terrible about my lack of blogging but please please please forgive me.

On May 25th I married my best friend and partner in crime. He’s my guardian angel and it breaks my heart to think of where my mental health would be if he hadn’t come along and showed me how my life can change in such a dramatic and positive way. Life together is just so effortlessly easy.

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Today my co-worker asked me if Reid and I fight and I was honest and said no. We don’t fight. It’s a difficult concept for so many people. Growing up, I thought love was disagreeing. Love was challenging each other. But I got a little older and I realized that wasn’t the case.

Here’s a list compiled by Reid and I about how we make it work

1. Discuss VS Fight

We share our points of view, we explain our reasoning, and then we come to a compromise that’s either  a blend of  the two points of view or sometimes we just agree that one of us has a better idea. It’s not an insult if one of us doesn’t like the others idea. It’s nothing personal, at all.

2. Genuine Interest

He takes such an interest in the stories I report on at work, the mental health causes I’m interested in and the workout regime or race I’m training for. And the same goes for him. I love it when he teaches me about what he does at work or when he shares childhood memories with me.

3. Align our Goals

We are constantly talking about what we want out of life financially, for our retirement, for our children, for our investments, and our careers. We’ve already talked about what we want for our kids and when we plan to retire. Talking about our goals also reassures me that we’re on the right path.

4. Take Turns

Reid is an amazing cook and I wouldn’t gladly let him cook every night but I also love to cook so we take turns. But if Reid cooks I will gladly clean up and vice versa. It’s not something we’ve ever talked about and we don’t have a schedule. We just kind of go with the flow. If I’m not feeling up to cooking, NO SWEAT! He’s got my back. Also I’m really bad at remembering to do laundry and I know he’s always willing to pick up the slack.

5. Have Fun!

We don’t take ourselves too seriously. We are always joking and having fun. Laughter is the best medicine, remember! We are constantly making new memories and reminiscing about old ones.  It just comes naturally when you’re best friends. In my opinion, it’s not something you can force.

These are not hard and fast rules to follow but this is how we have made it work. It’s not always sunshine and roses, but we always look on the bright side and enjoy each moment together that we get. With Reid’s career with the military, we know it’s possible that he could be deployed for any number of months so we try to take advantage of what time we have together. He’s my rock and he’s so important to my mental health! He’s taught me so much about life, love, and my self.

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Where have I been?

When I started as a Community Correspondent, I was un-employed. I spent my days at home in bed looking for work and blogging about mental health. Just over a month ago I started my first ever big girl job. I’m full time and I work 10 – 6, Monday to Friday. A dream come true! But by the time I get home from work, I am too exhausted to blog. My after-work time is very precious. It’s usually filled with eating, exercising, and chatting with my boyfriend. and SLEEPING! My job can be pretty emotionally exhausting. But having that stability in my life has been such a fantastic form of therapy. 

I want to apologize for not blogging more. It’s been a crazy time for me but I promise I will set aside time in the week to blog. I’m realizing how precious time really is! 

I have a massive idea.

Something so big and such a huge undertaking but something that will equal so much good for my community and beyond. 

My brother is helping me out so much with it. He is a brand strategist and is helping me develop my ideas. He’s an amazing person and has helped me out so much in life. Once again, he’s right here beside me every step of the way. 

I am filled with so much hope and joy right now that I just had to share it. 

Watch out for some big things coming your way this year. STAY TUNED

 

Lykke Li – Breaking it up

I am feeling super nostalgic today.

I am actually feeling really proud of myself and Reid and all we’ve been through over the last four years. This song was my favourite song when I met the love of my life. I played it on repeat on my way to and from our first date!

That’s the day my life changed forever.

It was a hot, breezy, Victoria afternoon. I went hung out with my best friend that night and I said to her, “I am going to marry him someday” and we laughed.

A room full of puppies!

A room full of puppies!

Much to the excitement of the entire campus, Dalhousie University opened their puppy room yesterday. Dogs of all shapes and sizes were there to cuddle and kiss the students to help reduce their stress. Although only a temporary fix to exam stress, the puppy room seems to be going over well. I like what the Student Union rep said about the point being to show students that they care, listen to them, and want to reduce the stigma. YAY FOR STIGMA REDUCTION! Go Dal, you guys rock!

I have yet to go see them. I am hoping to pop by on Thursday afternoon. If I go, I will get so many pictures to share. I’ll keep you posted.

Puppy correspondent,

Stephanie R

Mental Health Monday – Holidays are Coming!

First ever “Mental Health Monday”!

The holidays are fast approaching, whether you’re ready or not! Basically a stay-at-home wife, I’ve had the ability to be ready for Christmas for weeks already. But I have nothing to be ready for. My boyfriend and I are heading to BC for Christmas on the 20th to spend the holidays with my family! OH JOY! I do love my family very much but there is a twinge of anxiety inside me that I just can’t seem to push away. The thought of two weeks of being shipped between my mom’s house and my dad’s house without my our own mode of transportation and no means of escape is enough to drive anyone bonkers. I am extremely nervous for the festivities. Alcohol, fattening treats, lack of exercise…these are all my triggers! AHHH

So I am making a bit of a plan of attack for the trip. Thank god my loving boyfriend will be there. he’s always on top of my medication schedule (thank god) and always pushing me to stay active (much to my dismay) but without him I would get lost in a cycle of self deprecation. A downward spiral filled with candy cane ice cream, bailies, and Grand Theft Auto 4 mixed in with a spattering of TOO MUCH RETAIL THERAPY! That’s how I spent last Christmas season. Just add in two boxes of wine and you’ve got the whole picture

Stay Active

We are spending 2 weeks there so we might as well get comfortable. I will be bringing my running shoes so I can keep up my training for an up coming half marathon (that’s a whole other blog post in its self!) and to keep up with my newly adopted active life style. My boyfriend and I have been spending so much time at the rec center lately and it’s been so good for our health (both physical and mental) as well as our relationship. Doing something together with a common goal is so rewarding for our relationship. Little things like high five-ing when he laps me for the third time really make me feel like we are in this together.

Eat Clean 

My mom eats very clean and follows a gluten-free inspired diet just like myself. She suffers from the same mental health illnesses I do. Diet is something we can both agree on in terms of maintaining a healthy body and mind. But around the holiday times those lifestyle changes can be easily exchanged for high fat treats and sugary sweets! An extra serving of gluten-rich stuffing? YES PLEASE. So right now I am in talks with my mom to try and create some gluten free dishes to serve around the holiday season. My boyfriend and I love to cook so I hope to cook a lot for her while we are there and teach her some tricks she might not know. The student becomes the teacher, huh? Christmas doesn’t have to equal pounds gained!

Take Time Away

My boyfriend and I have planned some things to do alone while we are there. I know it will be important for both of our sanity to escape the christmas mayhem for a bit. We’ve planned a day at this mineral spa just north of my mom’s town. For $60 each we get full day access to the mineral grotto and unlimited food from the tapas bar! YUM! So Hugh Hefner! We might even get a couples massage. WE’LL SEE. After that we are planning a trip with my mom and her boyfriend up to our families cabin on the ocean and a trip up the mountain to go tubing and hang out at the chalet and sip some drinks! It’s weird to think of doing that kind of stuff with my family. The last time I went up the mountain with them I was about 14 and the bar was 100% off limits to minors!

Enjoy Every Minute

Last but not least… I need to just relax and enjoy the time with my family. I have a habit of getting all wrapped up in the details and planning that I forget to just enjoy. It’s not every day I am lucky enough to spend time with my loving family. I miss them so much. I haven’t seen my Mom since last March, if you can believe it! This has definatly been the longest stretch of time since I moved away a few years ago.

What’s your plan of attack for the holiday season?! Anything else I should try to make the holidays stress free (or at least less stressful)?