This blog is about life with a baby. It's not always what you expect and there is definitely no job description. Every baby is different and unique which is why motherhood can be so scary, fun, terrifying, exciting, and rewarding all at the same time.

We encourage you to share your experiences - by sharing your experiences and commenting on other posts, you may be helping other moms.
  • Sunday, February 04, 2018 12:30 PM | Christina (Administrator)

    When I decided to run one of the Workshops for Life With A Preterm Baby as a "Building NICU Memory Boxes" it was because I needed to do it. If I felt like I wanted to "seal" that journey as a memory in a shadow box, many other Preemie Parents like myself must also feel that way. 

    The attention was astounding - so many Parents wanting to share their NICU journeys with one another, to share their keepsakes, and to capture those Memories in a display.

    During the time my daughter was going through her 91 day NICU journey, I collected a lot of items. Her first pacifier, her first outfit that actually "kind of" fit her, a Preemie diaper, and the dozens of hospital bracelets that she went through as she grew. These items sat in a box in my closet for almost 5 years. I knew one day I would be strong enough to revisit the items.

    On Thursday, I joined other Parents of Preemies in Mississauga at the Port Credit Library. We sat in a circle, shared our stories - some Veteran Moms, some recent Graduates. We sat and listened to one another, and a sense of Community was there. It was emotional, therapeutic and quite frankly magical. To see these Moms come together to talk with others who "got it" was inspiring. My heart felt so full to be able to be part of a group of peers supporting one another. 

    We all pulled out our boxes of Memories. Some had blood pressure cuffs, Oxygen lines, and name tags from the Incubator. This was the therapy we all needed. Revisiting our journeys, sharing it, and sealing it in a shadow box - our way of displaying some form of "Award" or "Certificate" to show what our precious little ones achieved while they did their time in the NICU.  The magic about this is, you can add to the shadow box whenever you'd like.

    For my daughter's, I included:
    - her first pacifier which was almost half the size of her face
    - her first hospital bracelet that was still to large it kept falling off
    - the first outfit a nurse put her in at 30 weeks & 6 days )which had to be rolled at the sleeve twice, and it's a preemie size)
    - her head piece from her Baptism on World Prematurity Day (November 17)


       


    Here's the final piece:



    If you want to make your own, here's what we used:

    FIND
    Items you've saved from your Journey
    Some examples of what the group brought:
    - Hospital Bracelet
    - First Outfit
    - Blood Pressure Cuffs
    - Preemie Diaper
    - Pacifier
    - Foot print Art
    - Going home outfit
    - Name tag from Incubator
    - Oxygen lines


    TO PURCHASE (purchased from the local Art Store*)
    - Shadow Box (11"x14") 
    - Pearl Top pins
    * Keep an eye out for 50% off one item coupons!

    STEPS

    1. Sit down, with some time to reflect on the journey you had. This is important as it may trigger some emotions. Share this experience with your Partner, a parent, or maybe even your child. Discuss the items and why they're important to you. This is part of the healing.
    2. Remove the backing place the items from your Memory Box that you want displayed on the backing. 
    3. Continue moving the placement around until you are happy. 
    4. Use the pins, inserting on an angle through the item and the backing to to keep the items in place (the backing is padded)
    5. Place the backing back when you are satisfied with all the items and their placement.

    TOTAL COST: $22.00


    Share your Memory boxes below or on our FB page! We'd love to see them.





    #NICU #Memories #LifeWithAPretermBaby #PreemiePowerCanada #CanadianPrematureBabiesFoundation #LifeWithABaby
  • Tuesday, January 30, 2018 7:34 PM | Claire (Administrator)

    “How old is your son,” asked the patient sitting next to me.  “He is a week old,” I replied as I handed over a picture that I carried around of my only son, Landon.  “I also carry this miniature bottle of baby shampoo around so I can smell Landon whenever I want.  It is comforting to me.  I just miss him so much.” 

    That is one of the many conversations I had while I was being treated for postpartum psychosis six days after my first and only child was born.  At the time, the psychosis had its tight hold on me.  In the midst of my mind breaking into a million pieces, my son remained to be a priority and on the forefront of my shattered mind.  My love for Landon had no bounds.  Even postpartum psychosis and the severe postpartum depression that followed could not take that love from my heart.

    I believe a misconception people have about mothers suffering from a postpartum mood disorder is that the suffering mother doesn’t have a bond with their child or that they don’t feel a love for their child.  I can honestly say that I was able to bond with my son despite having the illness and that I loved him very much through my illnesses.

    I started displaying symptoms of psychosis almost immediately after my son was born.  I was so afraid that something was going to happen to my new baby.  I was desperate to protect him from kidnappers, germs…everything.  I remember when I started losing touch with reality; I still wanted to protect my new baby.  I was home alone with my son and I was pacing with him in the kitchen.  I did not know what to do.  The voices were telling me that my son was going to be taken away from me.  Even though my mind was shattering, I was able to pull out of it long enough to call my mom and tell her to come over right away.  As soon as she entered the house, I handed over my son knowing that he would be safe.  That was the last time I held him in my arms before I was admitted to the hospital.

    While I was in the hospital, I was frantic to continue breastfeeding.  I was unaware that my husband had made the decision a day before to switch Landon to formula because it was too stressful for me.  I ran up to the hospital staff and told them I was a new mother and I needed to pump so my baby could receive the nourishment he needed.  The staff knew I was no longer breastfeeding, but because of my fragile condition, they offered to allow me to pump in the hospital.  I remember when my husband told me the truth, that I was not going to breastfeed anymore due to the hospitalization and the medication I was taking.  It devastated me.  I felt like the one thing that I was doing right, the one thing that made me feel close to my baby, was being taken from me.  I cried so much.  It broke my heart.  I am so grateful that I was able to breastfeed at all, even if it was just for five days.  I believe that because of that, I was able to bond with Landon.  It was such a special time that I will always treasure.

    After I recovered from the postpartum psychosis, I went into severe depression almost immediately.  Four to five weeks after I was released from being treated for postpartum psychosis, I was readmitted for having suicidal thoughts as a result of my postpartum depression.  It would be twice that I would be hospitalized for being suicidal.  Both times, I checked myself into the behavioral health unit of the hospital and had to make the choice to leave my son to seek out treatment.  I recall picking up my things to leave for the hospital and kissing my son one last time before I went.  I looked at my sweet little bundle and just thought I don’t know if I can leave him.  I knew I had to though because I needed to get better so I could be the mommy that he needed me to be.  Leaving my son was so hard, but loving him is what saved my life. 

    I spent much of my time in the hospital writing letters to my husband.  The theme of all of the letters was that, 1) I wanted to get well and 2) I wanted to get well so that I could be the very best wife and mommy to my husband and my son.  I would call and check on Landon just so I could hear him in the background.  I remember how good I felt when my husband called me at the hospital because he could not figure out how to stop the baby from crying.  I gave instructions over the phone, I don’t recall exactly what I said now, but you could hear Landon’s cries stop and it was because of me.  I was still loving and mothering my son from the walls of the hospital.

    I am still recovering from depression.  I try each and every day to do better than I did the day before.  I loved that little boy before he was here, I loved him through my postpartum mood disorders, and I will love him through this depression.   Landon is my heart and he deserves the best that I can give.  I know now that I deserve the best, too.

    Christina Duepner is an accountant in St. Louis, Missouri.  She lives in the country with her husband of five years, “almost” two year old Landon, and Golden Retriever, Murphy.  She enjoys scrapbooking, reading, shopping, blogging, cooking, and Zumba.  Please visit her blog at http://theduepners.blogspot.com.


  • Tuesday, January 30, 2018 7:33 PM | Claire (Administrator)

    My husband and I were prepared for the birth of our son and we felt that we knew what to expect during the first few days of his life. We read the books, took the classes, went to all of our prenatal appointments, and typed out a birth plan.  I don’t think a couple could have prepared any better than we did.  We are Type A personalities after all.  However, the classes, books, and appointments did not in any way prepare us for postpartum psychosis.  The evil illness took us by surprise and almost cost me my life.

    The first night I was home from the hospital, I had an awful dream.  It was so vivid that it almost seemed real.  I dreamed that my son disappeared and someone took him from me.  Every time I would go to pick him up, he would vanish and would reappear somewhere different.  I was terrified.  I woke up with tears streaming down my face.  I was hysterical and frightened.  I was so scared to sleep for the rest of the night.  I just watched my new baby sleep and I started writing out lots of schedules.  I create feeding schedules, medication schedules, schedules concerning my son’s dirty diapers and the frequency of his urination and bowel movements, and friend and family visiting schedules.  I was obsessed with charting everything.  My mind was constantly racing.  I would go from one thing to the next not being able to focus on any one thing for too long.  When I finally slept again, I had another terrible nightmare.  It involved my niece being raped and murdered.  It was extremely graphic and gory.  After that, I was afraid to sleep and refused to sleep. 

    I started to think that I was dying.  I was so afraid that I was going to die and that I was going to leave my husband to raise our son by himself.  I finally told my mom that I thought I was going to die and that I was just so scared.  I told her I needed to be by myself for awhile and I just lay on my bed and cried and cried.  I couldn’t stop.  I cried myself to sleep and had another terrible nightmare.  

    I continued writing out my schedules, which I know now is part of the mania of postpartum psychosis.  I started to become withdrawn and I would just stare into space.  The fear that I was dying was still profound, but I kept it to myself.  I was also so afraid someone was going to take our baby.  I told my husband that he needed to put an alarm system in and that he needed to teach me how to use a gun.  I started to believe that my husband and I were being tested and that every new parent is tested in order to keep their child.  If the parents failed the test, their baby was taken away from them.  I was so scared of “failing the test.”  We went to my son’s first pediatrician’s appointment when he was five days old and I remember hearing voices.  The voices were telling me that my husband was always right and to do whatever he told me to.  I remember the doctor asking me when to feed the baby and I could not answer him.  I was afraid I would give the wrong answer and that they would not let us leave with our baby.  It was terrifying.

    The next day, when our son was six days old, we went to the doctor so I could have my staples removed.  I grabbed onto my husband like my life depended on it and screamed as each of the staples was taken out.  In actuality, the staples being removed did not hurt at all.  My behavior was bizarre.  The nurse practitioner asked me questions.  I only remember one…”What would you do if your husband took your son away from you for a few days?”  I answered, “That would be fine.  Whatever he wants to do is fine with me.”  My voice was empty and monotone.  We left that appointment and went home.  We did not learn until much later that they had an emergency meeting about me that day and came to the conclusion that I was suffering from postpartum psychosis.  I was only the second patient in 26 years of practicing that the doctor had served who had postpartum psychosis.  By the time they placed the call to speak to my husband, I was already admitted to another hospital.

    I do not recall everything from that time period today.  I recall being left alone with my son and pacing back and forth while the voices in my head were telling me to run out the door naked.  I didn’t listen to the voices that time.  I called my mom and told her to come over right away.  I handed over my infant son to her as soon as she arrived.

    I remember being taken to the emergency room the first time.  I would pull myself together and act like everything was OK when the medical staff was in the room and the minute they would leave and I was alone with my mom, I would start talking about how God has chosen us and that God was talking to me.  That went on for 8 hours.  The hospital eventually released me and said it was postpartum anxiety.  I had fooled them all.

    Things continued to escalate at home.  I took a short nap and when I awoke I was hysterical.  I thought someone I loved was going to die.  I made everyone promise me that they would be alive and that they would be present when I woke up from sleeping.  My family tried then to get me to the car to take me to a different hospital.  I started to go willingly and then I started to fight my husband.  I told him to get his hands off of me.  I threw his hands away.  He was so surprised by the way I was acting.  An ambulance had to be called.  I was talking crazy and I was an absolute danger to myself.  It was as if all of my deepest fears were coming true and I could not escape them.  It was a living hell.  Thank God my husband called 911 and signed me involuntarily into a behavioral health unit.  I tremble to think what would have happened if he hadn’t. 

    Once postpartum psychosis starts, it unfolds so very quickly.  It is imperative that you know the signs and symptoms.  I reached a crisis situation.  But you or your friend or loved one doesn’t have to.  No one told me that if my immediate family members had bipolar, that it would increase my chance of becoming ill with postpartum psychosis.  My mom is bipolar and she experienced postpartum psychosis with the birth of her youngest child.  Had I been asked that question and prepped for postpartum psychosis, maybe things would have unraveled a little less traumatic for me.  I also had suffered a miscarriage before I became pregnant with my son and I experienced a difficult pregnancy with my son.  I was under grave stress before the birth of my son, including bed rest and my husband being laid off from his job.  I then planned for a normal labor and delivery, which turned into a long labor that ended in a surprise and unplanned cesarean.  Combine all of that with total sleep deprivation and it was a perfect recipe for postpartum psychosis.

    My doctor said that he would have never thought that I would be one to get postpartum psychosis.  I was an incredibly happy expectant mother.  If it can happen to me, it could in fact happen to anyone.  Please don’t think it can’t happen to you.  Educate yourself on the signs and symptoms of postpartum psychosis.  It could save you or your loved one’s life.

    About the Author:

    Christina Duepner is an accountant in St. Louis, Missouri.  She lives in the country with her husband of five years, “almost” two year old Landon, and Golden Retriever, Murphy.  She enjoys scrapbooking, reading, shopping, blogging, cooking, and zumba.  Please visit her blog at http://theduepners.blogspot.com.


  • Tuesday, January 30, 2018 7:30 PM | Claire (Administrator)

    When I was asked to be a guest blogger and share my experience having postpartum depression (PPD), I was so excited. They wanted me? Really? Wow, am I interesting enough to be a guest blogger?

    After my excitement wore off, fear set in. Now that I’m feeling better (PPD free) I find it’s really hard to write about my experience living with depression. Just reading other people’s PPD blogs sucks me into a vortex so deep, it’s hard not to get sucked back into the old feelings of pain, sadness and alienation I felt just a few short months ago. Most times, even just the mention of having PPD makes me sad, and sets off a cry-fest.

    But, I know that talking about it is therapeutic – not only for me, but for other mom’s out there who may be experiencing the same emotions, and for husbands trying to figure out how to be supportive in such difficult times.

    So, here’s a little bit about me and my story as a postpartum depression surviving momma of one, with another on the way.

    I remember the day like it was yesterday. My son was due May 28, 2010 but he decided to cook for an extra 7 days. On June 4, 2010 my husband and I obeyed the doctor’s orders to check in at the hospital, we were going to see if this baby boy was ready to be born. Well, he wasn’t but letting him cook longer wasn’t an option and the induction procedure moved ahead full force. I was a bit nervous to be induced but really wanted to get the show on the road so to speak so I was all for the induction. Not long after the medication had been administered did the baby’s heart rate drop extremely low. Twice the nurses and doctor had to rush in to help get the baby’s heart rate back up. It was so scary and fast. Next thing I knew, the doctor was saying an emergency c-section was needed, we weren’t taking any chances to let the baby’s heart rate drop again, they were worried that he was reacting to the medication, or worst, the umbilical cord may be wrapped around his neck.

    Fast forward a few hours, our little boy was born super healthy and robust, and we were left to rest and recover in the hospital. Next came the feeding – he hungrily latched on to my breast, it hurt a bit but I wasn’t complaining. I was just amazed that he knew what to do.

    But then things took a turn for the worst. He couldn’t get any colostrum from each feeding, my nipples wouldn’t cooperate (one decided to invert out of the blue) and he ended up with jaundice. The nurses were trying to help show me how to get him to latch, reminding me how important breast milk was and how inferior a choice formula would be. They were just doing their job, but man, did I ever feel like an utter failure as a mother. Most of the nurses were trying to support my decision to breast feed, and my family, seeing me struggle and struggle, tried to reassure me that if I wanted to give the baby formula it was perfectly fine.

    I felt caught in the middle and felt so useless. First a c-section with no labour, then no breastfeeding? What was wrong with me? One of the most miraculous things about pregnancy and being a mother is getting to experience giving birth, I didn’t even know what a contraction felt like, then my baby had to be surgically removed from me because my body practically attacked him. Now, I can’t even feed him?

    I felt totally ripped off and was so angry at my body, and everyone else who just couldn’t understand how I felt.

    I really think that’s when my postpartum depression started, but to tell you the truth, I only recently realized this.

    After our hospital stay, for weeks and weeks, I thought I had a really bad case of the baby blues. But thinking back to when we were finally home and rested, if someone even mentioned “Hey Jen, I think the baby is hungry,” I would have a hysterical cry-fest, and would scream at everyone for making me feel like a failure at being a new mom. Everyone was convinced it was baby blues, even my dad tried to comfort me and reassure me that these hormonal baby blues wouldn’t last very long and I’d feel “normal” again in no time.

    Fast forward six months later, I was still feeling really sad, overwhelmed and extremely short on patience with everyone in my life. I was mad that my husband got to go to work while I stayed home alone with the baby. I was mad that my friends’ babies were older and sleeping through the night. I was mad that I had to spend so much money on formula, to watch this little baby spit half of it up on our leather couches. I got angry if the baby was fussy.

    Then I’d get sad that I got mad. Then uncontrollable guilt would set in. It sounds so silly but it’s true. My emotions were literally all over the place. I fantasized about running away. I was the worst mother to ever walk the earth; surely everyone would live a better quality of life if I just packed my bags and ran away.

    It was such a terrible emotion to be feeling when I wanted this baby so badly. I had everything I could ever want, a husband who was just amazing, a beautiful home, a dog, a baby boy, lot’s of friends, a crazy close family and a wonderful career. So why was I so sad, angry and ungrateful?

    I thought it was just the adjustment of having a new baby and really didn’t think much of it until my mom and husband encouraged me to go see my doctor.

    It came to no surprise to our family doctor that I was suffering from PPD, after all, she’d been keeping an eye on me each month as I brought the baby for his monthly check ups. I think she was just waiting for me to open up to her about how I’d been feeling. Looking back, she was probably going to just stage an intervention if the crying visits went on any longer…and I can’t say that I’d blame her!

    As much as I was really upset and kind of ashamed to have PPD, I was happy to have such a sympathetic doctor who helped me to understand the different degrees and kinds of PPD. With the help of some medication, and my family’s encouragement to join a local postpartum depression support group, I finally had the tools I’d need to get myself some help.

    I think the best part was how it felt to be able to just talk about it and be able to put a label on how I had been feeling. Knowing and understanding what I had (and it’s so common) made me feel so much better and optimistic about my road to recovery.

    My little guy is two years old now and I’m expecting again. I’m due in September and while I am free from depression now, I know that the risks of getting PPD are a bit higher since I’m predisposed to it now. I’m scared about what my experience will be with a newborn and a toddler in tow, but, I’m hopeful that with the support of my family, friends and amazing doctor, I’ll be able to kick PPD in the butt once again if needed.

    If there is someone out there reading this blog that thinks they might have PPD or maybe has a friend who is going through a tough time post-partum, here are a few links I found that have really helped me understand this condition.

    Postpartum Depression – Canadian Mental Health Association
    Baby Blues or Postpartum Depression? – Women’s Health Matters

    Jennifer is communications professional by day/blogger and postpartum depression surviving full-time mommy always.  She’s a social media junkie, obsessed with coffee, blogging, celebrity gossip and online shopping. Visit her blog at http://morningcoffeeconfessions.blogspot.com.

  • Monday, January 29, 2018 4:05 PM | Glynis


    Like many illnesses, postpartum depression expresses itself differently in each mom. There are signs we are told to look out for which the majority of mothers may have, sure. Ultimately, though, there’s enough variation in the symptoms that it can be confusing for both the mothers experiencing it andthose in a support role. To someone who doesn’t have training or a background in depression, the assumption may be that PPD is just an extended period of the baby blues.

    Those of us who have experienced postpartum depression know better.

    Jessica Porten is a mother from California who, according to her viral Facebook post, had been trying to see her OB for several months. When she was finally able to get an appointment at four months postpartum, she reported what she believed to be PPD symptoms to her nurse practitioner, who then called the cops. What followed was a nightmare of an ordeal that would’ve been terrible for anyone to go through, never mind a mother suffering from PPD. Once the police arrived, they escorted her, with her baby, to the nearest ER where she waited for 10 hours to be seen. When she was finally seen, it was by a social worker, not a medical doctor, and she was discharged without medication or a follow up appointment booked.


    The key in this story is that Porten’s PPD symptoms manifested as rage and violent intrusive thoughts. Those are disturbing symptoms to hear about, but they are absolutely terrifying to experience. With that said, Porten made it clear that she felt completely in control and did not have any intention to carry out any of those thoughts.

    Anyone who has studied postpartum depression should be aware of the widespread occurrence of these types of intrusive thoughts. In my own postpartum experience, the psychiatrists and social workers I saw would regularly ask if I was experiencing them, and how they manifested. I also experienced a lot of rage, and eventually it became too much to bear. It wasn’t until I was five months postpartum when I finally began taking medication that the rage began to subside. For me, however, the rage was never directed toward my baby. All of my intrusive thoughts that involved harm coming to my baby were as a result of accidental, unintentional harm

    Life With A Baby’s founder, Claire Ziobin, had similar experiences with her intrusive thoughts. 

    …when my daughter was about 4 months, I fell on the stairs the night before. I immediately started thinking about what if Katelyn was in my hands, what if I had fallen on her, what if… this irrational fear that my daughter who I love and cherish  could be have gotten hurt played out in my mind in many ways. It led to irrational thoughts where I could picture myself falling down the stairs with her in my arms. This resulted in me spending a whole day on the main floor of our house until my husband got home because I did not want to be alone – in case I really did fall with her in my hand.

    For me, it was my fear of dropping the baby as I put him in his car seat, when it was already in the car. I would often ask my husband to do it for me, because I was so certain I would drop the baby. The gruesome images that played out in my head are ones that I never want to share, to this day.

    Life With A Baby was created with the purpose of supporting new mothers during a time when a lot of their normal support network may not understand the complexities of postpartum mood disorders. In Porten’s case, she encountered a nurse practitioner who clearly didn’t understand the difference between postpartum depression and postpartum psychosis; for other women, it may be a case of their support networks not understanding how serious postpartum mood disorders can be. 

    In the case of Janet (name changed for anonymity), a LWAB member, her own husband didn’t take her postpartum depression seriously:

    He said nothing is wrong with me and that I should just GET OVER IT. I decided that he would be my person for everything else but my depression. I had other supports in family and friends.

    Thankfully, Janet is now seeing a prenatal psychiatrist as she moves through her second pregnancy. A functioning support system can make all the difference to a mother who is suffering.

    Porten’s experience might not feel like something that could happen in Canada, but the reality is it could. As of right now, maternal mental health screening is not a recommendation in Canada, which means there’s no guarantee your primary healthcare provider is looking for signs and symptoms of a postpartum mood disorder. Until that changes, expecting and new moms will need to take on the burden of advocating for themselves and looking for resources that will act as a support.

    If you’ve been struggling and are afraid to approach your healthcare provider, either because you’re afraid you won’t be taken seriously or you’re afraid you’ll be taken too seriously, there are options. Here are links to a list of resources for each province:

    Ontario

    New Brunswick

    Nova Scotia

    Newfoundland and Labrador

    Quebec

    Manitoba

    Saskatchewan

    Alberta

    British Columbia 

    Prince Edward Island

    Yukon

    Northwest Territories

    Nunavut


  • Wednesday, January 24, 2018 3:24 PM | Claire (Administrator)

    In 2007 when I had my daughter, I was alone and isolated, and I wanted to connect with others. Even more, I wanted to prevent other moms from going through what I did. I didn't have the support I needed, and that's how Life With A Baby was born, but it is sustained because of the over 500 volunteers that raised their hand and said, I, also, want to help; I, too, want to make a difference.


    Over the past decade, the program Life With A Baby has helped more than 180,000 families online, and over 70,000 have participated in our in-person support programs.

                                     

    I'm not sharing this to say - oh look what I've done - Yay me! I'm posting because it's proof that one person can start something that will make a difference in the lives of others.  Yes, ONE person can make a difference, but it takes a team of people to turn a big goal into reality.



    Maternal mental health is my passion and my purpose. It drives everything I do. However, I cannot do it alone. It is bigger than one person, and it's also bigger than one organization. I love what we do at Life With A Baby but we can't and shouldn't be attempting to do this alone.


    Moms deserve for us to work together with other organizations to change the way things are for moms who reach out for help. The stigma surrounding maternal mental health issues is killing moms and ruining lives.


    This is a plea for even more help because we want to do more. As our program and our membership grows we need more and more help to continue the work of preventing moms from falling into crisis after they have a baby.




    How can YOU help moms in your community through the Life With A Baby network?

    I believe in the power of moms! This is a movement, and I want YOU to be a part of it.  Connect with us at info@lifewithababy.com to help



    With an abundance of gratitude for all the community managers who make the Life With A Baby program possible.  



  • Wednesday, January 24, 2018 2:39 PM | Claire (Administrator)

    It's January, the most depressing month of the year according to many. The holidays are over, it's cold, It's back to work and routine, there is less sun, and it's generally grey and dreary outside.  It's also the time of year that we decide, usually after indulging way too much over the holidays, that we need to do something about those extra pounds.  I've wanted to get in shape for a few months, not necessarily to lose weight but to gain strength and muscle and to tone up and tighten my core, the one thing we all wish was a bit firmer after kids.  My kids are 10 and 6 so there is no excuse really that I haven't gotten back to where I feel I want to be.  And it's not that I don't exercise - I run on a regular basis, and I had been going to a gym a few times a week.


    What I realized after only 6 weeks at Orangetheory Fitness is that I was not exercising in the right way to lose weight or sculpt muscles. There is a difference between exercising for general health, and with the intention to change body composition.  I made some faulty assumptions: I assumed that because I was running for 30 minutes a few times a week that I was working out. I wasn't. I used to do track since the age of 5 until high school, and I have crazy good endurance. A 5k run doesn't phase me, but 20 minutes on the treadmill at an OTF class and It feels like the hardest I've ever worked.   


    I also could never stick with a gym. I couldn't find the motivation to go on a regular basis, partly because I didn't see the difference in my body and I wasn't feeling the difference in my mood. I would get on the stair climber, elliptical, or treadmill for 30 mins and then  do some weights but everytime I left, I felt that I didn't get a good workout. Do you know that feeling? What was preventing me from pushing myself harder?


    The answer for me was that I didn't know how hard I was working out. I couldn't tell if I was pushing myself or not. In my case, I felt that I needed to be extra careful. I have a heart murmur and I need to work out to keep my heart healthy per my doctor's orders b/c heart disease does run in my family, but I also didn't want to push myself too hard (which is more to do with my own anxiety than a medical order). This is where the heart rate monitors that we wear at OTF makes ALL.THE.DIFFERENCE.  For the first time I can see how hard I'm pushing myself. I can see that I was not pushing myself hard AT.ALL.  



    After 6 weeks and only going to the gym twice a week I am beginning to see improvement in my body and my mental health is feeling great too. I actually got up early twice last week so that I could make the 8:15 class because the other morning classes were full. I am actually excited to go to the gym. I love the way I feel afterwards and I LOVE LOVE LOVE the way my body is changing for the better.


    These are the top 5 things I love about OTF and why I keep going back.

    1. The Coaches - the coaches do a great job of getting to know everyone and learning our names. They motivate in a supportive way and connected with me right away so that I could feel comfortable in the class. I love that everything I meet a new coach they seem to follow the same system of making the newbies feel comfortable in the class.

    2. The heart rate monitor system - The heart rate monitors are connected to TVs around the room so we can see how we are doing and if we need to make small adjustments to reach our goal.

    3. The music - The music is so good. And I know you are thinking I have good workout music already what is the big deal? The big deal is not having to keep putting earbuds back in after they fall out, or having anything connecting to me at all. The fact that it's just amazing music that seems to be choreographed perfectly with the workout structure is pure bliss!  

    4. The Orange effect -  All I need is 12 minutes in the orange zone to have an amazing workout that is going to keep burning fat and calories through the next day. 12 minutes.  It's perfection.

    5. The flexibility with the number of classes and locations - I'm very lucky because there are two OTF classes next to me, but a few weeks ago I was in Ottawa for holidays and there is an OTF gym there, and there are OTF gyms all across Canada so even when I'm traveling for work I can still go to the gym and get the same great workout.


    Overall I'm really enjoying OTF and I'm looking forward to seeing what the next 6 week brings. You can try it for free and see if you love it, too.


    Disclaimer : I received a discount off membership at OTF but as always the opinions are my own.



  • Friday, January 12, 2018 7:10 PM | Christina (Administrator)

    As a parent, it's hard to find time to catch up on things: the laundry, the dishes, with friends, with your spouse. But in the summer of 2017, we finally had time to catch up... and catch our breath at Fern Resort.

    Over the course of Two nights, we were able to leave the resort with smiles all over our families faces, feeling like we've finally had a connection yet again. 

    When we arrived, my kids (4 and 2 years old) just couldn't wait to go to the Trampoline area. Of course, my 35 year old Husband felt the same so immediately once the keys were in hand, the feet ran over and UP and DOWN and UP and DOWN as my 2 year old said. It was a great way to "JUMP" into our weekend.



    Catching some air Fern Resort! Could spend hours here, but it's time for dinner then off to the Play Village! 


    Off to dinner we went, the kids enjoying the buffet and Kid Favourites. Then it was time to drop them off to the Play Village for Mommy and Daddy to continue the theme of catching up, this time over a wonderful dinner... just the two of us! When does that happen at home?


    Just me and the hubby, kids enjoyed their play time at the Play Village! Delish and quiet meal! #NomNom #SummerAtFern


    The food was delicious, but as a parent you know it's hard to relax when your children are being watched by someone you don't know. Well, the staff at Fern and the Play Village are SPECTACULAR!  When you drop your child off you provide them with your phone number and they unlock a gate to let your child in. There is always a staff member at the welcome desk which I was so pleased with the amount of safety procedures they took.

    I am not going to lie, we dropped the kids off and watched for 20 minutes and the attention to safety, the personalities of the staff, the genuine caring for your children is apparent. I was more than comfortable to walk away from my children knowing they were in caring hands.

    That weekend went by in a blur. So much to do, and just not enough time before we realized the weekend was over.  How to camp everything in only 2 and a half days?From more trampoline time, to driving at the Play Village, to paddle boating with the kids on a beautiful sun lit lake.

    The catch up time was completed and we left relaxed, complete and with smiles on our faces... but of course, not before catching one more thing... FISH!

     
    So many fun activities for the entire family to do together! E caught her first fish, D's first peddle boat, swimming in the sunshine #somethingforeveryone #summeratFern #CaughtASunfish


    The one thing I realized on this Holiday was this: You don't need to always be around your children for them to be happy. You need to focus on time for yourself and in turn, everyone around you will feed off of that positive energy. And, just look at this face. She had a blast. Next summer, we'll have to add a few more days to get even more stuff in; and get even bigger smiles!



            
  • Thursday, January 11, 2018 1:23 PM | Bhavishree (Administrator)

    Anonymous author

    Reflecting on the early years of parenting the first words that come to mind are exhaustion and overwhelmed. Last year a teacher said it's assumed that parents want to volunteer with their children's age bracket but in reality many parents really need a break from whatever stage their children are in and/or don't like certain ages and stages. Amen! She went on to say that most new parents don't belong in the church nursery - why don't the people who aren't on 24/7 baby duty take that role and let the new parents have a break she said... hmm...

    Both of the churches we attended when the boys were babies said that all new parents are to take turns in the nursery. Well, I've come to realize why I hated the days I was on nursery duty. I never had the desire to be in the nursery before having babies, and I still don't now. I definitely didn't belong in that nursery room. I should've said no and served elsewhere. You see, I was completely exhausted, overwhelmed, longing for adult conversation and a break from caring for a baby and a toddler. I was on the verge of a mental break for years. Instead of getting a break from parenting duty I agreed to take care of even more babies and toddlers out of perceived obligation.

    One of the churches had my injured husband on the schedule as well when it was known that he suffers from chronic pain. We had to explain why not only did he have no desire to be in the nursery but he physically shouldn't be doing it. No really, he will not be doing nursery duty. He cannot put on his own shoes nor shower himself, he can barely take care of himself and his own young children, he will not be regularly volunteering to take care of more babies and toddlers.

    I write all of this to give you permission to say no even if you aren't a chronic pain sufferer. If you are as overwhelmed now as I was then don't allow peer pressure to put you on nursery duty if you dread it. Find a way to serve that energizes you and uses your skill set. Ask the people who want to hold your baby in the lobby to take a shift in the nursery on occasion.

    I wish that churches would hear the woman who gave me this insight and stop obliging new parents to serve in the nursery. I'm not frustrated with the nursery coordinators for putting me on the schedule, I do however wish I knew then that I shouldn't have agreed to it. I'm proud of the people who said no to me when I asked them to volunteer for stuff. There's endless places to serve within a community, and we give best when we are giving in our areas of expertise and capacity.


  • Thursday, January 11, 2018 11:28 AM | Bhavishree (Administrator)

    Author - Jenny M. 

    After the winter holiday, it’s time to plan for the summer! We still have fond memories of our last #SummeratFern. We love traveling but it’s always been to big cities. It was our first road trip and we were not sure if staying in a resort is going to keep us entertained. We were traveling with my 3.5year old and 7 months old baby. Packing for a weekend trip was fairly simple since Fern Resort provided a crib and everything there is family oriented. The room had blackout curtains so baby can nap during the day. The checking in process was quick and easy. Just remember there is no elevator, it’s a workout just getting to the room. Bring your travel stroller as the room is not big enough for a full size and carrying the stroller up the stairs is no fun.

     



    Let’s talk about food! The dining area was set up like a cruise ship. We sat at the same table for all our meals. We walked in and high chair, towel and bib were already there for us. Crayons and coloring pages are available by the door if you want something to entertain your kids. When we travel, we always dine earlier just to skip the crowd and tantrum. At Fern, they also have that options but it is catered to the kids. It's buffet style for main and dessert. Kids can pick and choose what they want to eat. After they finish their meal then its time to send them off to Playvillage! By the next meal, they will be BEGGING you to go! It’s free and they entertain your kids while we enjoyed dinner like real adults. We got to dine kids free, adult conversation, hot food (yes that’s a luxury) and the best of all no dishes and floor to mop after! Don’t forget to bring a snack box to pack fruits from lunch as afternoon snack for the kids. There’s a refrigerator in the room so the food won’t go bad.

    During our check in we were given a newsletter that listed out the entertainment schedule. There were shows you can catch at night and family shows during the day. There is plenty to do at Fern; pony rides, fishing, paddle boat, golf trampoline, sunset cruise (extra cost), floor hockey, tennis, swimming and more. Just endless entertainment you can enjoy as a family or without kids. That's right! You can drop them off at Playvillage anytime during the day too. At night, you can call in a babysitter (extra cost) so you can enjoy the evening. I took the opportunity to reconnect with my hubby and spend some one-on-one time with my older child. It was a nice change from our usual city vacation.

    If you are thinking where to go this summer check out Fern Resort. You won’t be disappointed!


    Author - Jenny M. 





 

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