Tales From The Crib: Tanya

I am a single mommy to a beautiful five-year-old baby boy. Five years back I gave birth to him and my whole life changed. Not only did I become a mother but I had to become a sole care giver to him. Luckily, my mom, dad and my sisters were always there to help me. My son is growing up in a house full of strong female figures and I couldn’t be happier. He is a kind and gentle soul and it amazes me how much he cares about his friends and his family. Every time I look at him I feel like he was the best decision I ever made. I am currently rebuilding my life with the love of my life my son and taking each day at a time and growing with him.

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WPC: What have been your biggest challenges since becoming a parent?

Tanya: As a single parent my biggest challenge is trying to do it all. Being the only parent I have to make sure I am making the best decision, earning, keeping the house clean and showing up at every school event. Its challenging when you are always consumed by mom guilt and you keep doubting yourself and struggling to be the kind of parent I want to be.

WPC: What have you found helpful to address these challenges?

Tanya: I take it one day at a time and I am trying not to beat myself up for missing volunteering for his school. I try to engage my whole family in his life so he never feels like he is missing out on a family. Its a constant struggle but some day are better than others.

WPC: If you could go back in time, what would you tell your pregnant self?

Tanya: I would def tell myself that the tough part is after giving birth. I was so worried about the pain of giving birth that I didn't focus on the process of after birth. I would take more time to mentally prepare for not sleeping and also setting boundaries after giving birth with people. I had to entertain guests right after giving birth when they came to see the baby. I would def tell myself to set boundaries. Also, I would tell myself to prepare for a kind of love you have never experienced before.

WPC: If you could, what is one thing you’d change about parenthood in our culture?

Tanya: I would change the expectation of having the perfect life for new mothers. Moms are expected to never screw up, always be happy and talk only about the positives of motherhood. I want people to know being a mom is beautiful but sometimes it really sucks. Some days are so hard and people need to accept that parenting can suck sometimes too.


Tales From The Crib : Amy

Amy lives in Toronto with her wife and two young children. Although not originally from Toronto, she is a huge Blue Jays fan!

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I didn't always think I wanted children. I remember being in my 20s, having never held an infant, knowing - knowing - parenthood wasn't for me. And then I met my soon-to-be wife. Sandra had two sisters, both with the coolest kids ever. I loved seeing them grow, turning into these cool and unique people. And suddenly, I couldn't imagine life as just the two of us.

We started trying for a family in 2007, when I had turned 30. We quickly decided that I would carry the baby. Sandra wasn't interested at all. And I was adopted at birth, and wanted to see what it felt like to know someone who looked liked me. Aside from the challenge of being a same-sex couple, I also had PCOS and highly irregular cycles. We started at a fertility clinic in Calgary where we lived at the time. I wish it had been a better experience. On top of spending about a year trying to ovulate, and 2 failed IUI cycles, we also dealt with a lot of ignorance and prejudice. The nurses and doctors couldn't seem to remember the two of us were together, and that there was no 'husband' involved. And our neighbours regularly hurled homophobic slurs at us, and beer bottles into our back yard. We weren't comfortable bringing a child into that kind of life.

When we decided to relocate to Toronto, we put our family plans on hold to allow us to settle in to our new jobs and life. We found that Toronto was a lot more welcoming on every level. In 2013, we started fertility treatments again, this time at a great clinic who could remember we were gay, and who treated us like real people. We had the option to try IUI again, but it had been so hard to go through all that daily monitoring just to find out I wasn't ready to ovulate. We opted to go straight to IVF and started an egg retrieval cycle in the summer of 2013. We transferred one embryo the day of the MLB All Star Game that July, and it worked! 10 months later, we welcomed Carly Catherine into the world.

In the winter of 2018, just before my 41st birthday, we decided to do an embryo transfer, feeling like we'd either try to expand our family now, or close that door. Again, it worked! Pregnancy this time was intensely complicated, however. I started having seizures at 22 weeks and had to be followed by a high-risk OB, a neurologist, and several other specialists. Despite those challenges, we met a healthy and content Connor James on July 21.

WPC: What have been your biggest challenges since becoming a parent?

Amy: The single largest challenge I've faced so far was the transition from one child to two. I've always been very close with Carly, and suddenly needing to cut down the time with her to take care of Connor kicked off a grief and guilt cycle for me a few days after his birth. I missed her so intensely it hurt, and on top of that, I felt like a terrible parent for both children. When Carly was born, I could devote every moment to her, and I loved that. I could hold her for every nap, and snuggle her at night. She filled my soul in ways I would have never predicted. Also, since I'd been off of work for several months, I'd been picking her up after school and kept her home over the summer. We'd spent so much time together and had so much fun!

But when Connor came, I had to put him down in the middle of a feed. I had to set him in the crib or the bouncer while I made a snack for Carly. It felt terrible, and it made it harder for me to really bond in the early days. And on top of that, Carly was so sad at her tired moments, and would complain that I never got to play with her any more, or that I got to spend more time with Connor than her. There were days when both of us just cried.

WPC: What have you found helpful to address these challenges?

Amy: Thankfully, after a month or so, I felt more in balance, and that things would be ok. Aside from time to get used to our new family, a few things also helped me with that transition. Because of my complex pregnancy, I had been referred into a mood clinic at Sunnybrook. My doctor and I had worked on some coping strategies for assessing my thoughts. When I started thinking I was an awful parent, I looked for evidence against that thought. For example, I felt bad at leaving Connor in his crib, but reminded myself how much he loved looking at his mobile, and that it was only a few minutes and he hadn't even cried. And I'd feel proud that I was able to get Carly a healthy and varied snack in those few minutes.

The second thing came at exactly the right time, when Connor was about a month old. The last week before school started, I spent a week with both kids - and both of our dogs - at our cottage. I don't know what I was thinking. Being the only parent with a newborn and a kindergartner was intense. But - I proved I could do it, and have fun just the same. I had one big goal, and that was to show Carly and I that our relationship wasn't that different now. Every day, I came up with one or two things we could do together, usually while Connor was wrapped on me so it didn't rely on staying close for naps. One day, we dug for worms and went fishing off the dock. Another, we chopped fresh tomatoes and made chili from scratch. And on the last night before my wife came back up, Carly threw the two of us a surprise dance party.

Looking back, that week was the game changer. I stopped crying all the time. And I realized that I was a super parent, and I could handle any challenge that came our way in the future.

WPC: If you could go back in time, what would you tell your pregnant self?

Amy: I do wish I could rewind to halfway through Connor's pregnancy, and start preparing myself for that transition from one to two. I've heard since then that other parents struggled mightily with it. I'm always busy this time - never napping when the baby naps. There are more dishes, more laundry, more tidying. And both my wife and I spend a lot of time playing with Carly, so there's a lot less time for housework. On top of that, though, I wish I had known how heartbreaking it would feel to not be able to still respond to Carly's needs as quickly as I used to. Some times, she needs to wait for me to finish that diaper change or whatever, and I was totally unprepared for how awful that would feel to me.

WPC: If you could, what is one thing you’d change about parenthood in our culture?

Amy: I'm excited that we seem to be sharing more honestly about the challenges of pregnancy and parenthood, but we could be even more transparent or create an environment where it's ok to struggle without fear of judgement. I love being a mom, and I'm aware it's felt easier for me than so many of my friends. But it's still hard, and I have days when it's brought me to tears, or I've lost my temper over something minor just because I'm feeling burnt out. Knowing that my friends go through the exact feelings helps.

Carly went through her first truly difficult phase when she started in JK, and for the longest time, we thought she was especially struggling compared to her peers. We endured "tsk tsks" in stores, and unhelpful parenting criticism, usually from older women who had parented in a different time. But over time, more parents shared that their kids had the 30 minute sidewalk meltdowns too. Or had to be carried out of the house to get anywhere. And as more parents shared that those phases passed over time, with growth and kindness, I didn't feel like we were anything out of the norm, and I had hope and patience that things would get easier. And within a few months and a few small shifts in how we communicate, she was back to the joyful, positive kid we'd always known.

Tales From The Crib: Jaclyn

Jaclyn was born and raised in Canada but moved to Italy after falling in love. She now lives in Italy with her husband and two kids, but still holds Canada near and dear to her heart.

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Well Parents Centre: What have been your biggest challenges since becoming a parent?

Jaclyn: My biggest struggle was dealing with an internal battle with myself regarding how to manage my time. At the beginning I remember feeling almost jealous of my husband for not appearing to have any regrets about dedicating time to himself on occasion. After going back to work, I felt badly about even thinking of going out for dinner with friends or colleagues after work. I felt that I should rush home and be with my daughter...and of course I loved and cherished my time with her, but at times I felt like I had no time for myself.

WPC: What have you found helpful to address these challenges?

Jaclyn: Luckily I talked about it!! I shared these thoughts with my husband and it was him that made me realize that it was a problem that I was creating within myself. He told me that he’d actually enjoy some one on one time with our daughter as well.

It might seem strange, but now that we have two children, I actually allow more time for myself than I did before. I go out for dinners with friends, I go get my nails done. And I feel much more relaxed!

I’m far from being a perfect mom, but I feel much closer to being the mom I aspire to be because I give myself more me time.

WPC: If you could go back in time, what would you tell your pregnant self?

I would tell myself that no one will know or understand your baby the way you will.

You have a bond that goes 9 months beyond anyone else’s. That despite the fact that you have no experience as a mother, that you will feel like you have no idea what you are doing, and that you doubt whether you have any motherly instinct at all, you DO know what’s best for your baby.

There will be so many people that feel they have the right to tell you what you should do, or give you a million suggestions. But at the end of the day, don’t doubt yourself and just go with your gut! Mommy always knows best!

WPC: If you could, what is one thing you’d change about parenthood in our culture?

Jaclyn: I’m Canadian, and I’ve been living in Italy for 13 years. I’m neither a typical Canadian mom nor a typical Italian mom....I’m a strange mix of the two.

One of the biggest cultural differences I experience is the extent to which a mother in Italy is expected to protect their child. I don’t mean protect in terms of safety, but more so regarding life’s realities. I wish that people could view more circumstances as opportunities to learn a life lesson earlier on rather than hiding aspects of life that a child will without a doubt have to deal with moving forward in life.

Tales From The Crib: Bryna

My name is Bryna, I am a 38 year old married mother of two girls. My husband, Justin and I were married in 2008. Our first daughter, Sawyer will be 8 this fall and our second daughter is, Porter and she is 5 months old. (Yes, I know that’s a big age difference. But it wasn’t planned that way.)

Our journey to start a family wasn’t an easy one. I suffered two miscarriages before Sawyer, one miscarriage while pregnant with Sawyer and two miscarriages between Sawyer and Porter. By the time I was 35, I had suffered 5 miscarriages. Justin and I have been for every test under the sun and there is still no reason behind any of my losses. After two miscarriages and 2 years of trying, we were referred to the local Fertility Clinic. There we did all the testing and everything came back “fine”, so no real explanation for my losses. We got pregnant after our first round of Clomid and were over the moon excited to find out we were expecting Fraternal Twins. Unfortunately, twin B was extremely ill and we were told the chances of survival were slim. I had doctor appointments and ultrasounds weekly after 18 weeks. Plus, crazy amounts of blood work, MRI’s etc. The team of doctors were absolutely incredible and so compassionate. Week 22, we lost our baby girl, Charlotte Lee. Our lives were shattered. But we had to focus on keeping me pregnant to deliver Twin A. I had a planned c-section at 38.5 weeks and we welcomed an extremely healthy baby girl in September 2011, who we named Sawyer Malia. After the trauma of that pregnancy, I said I could never do it again. But when Sawyer was 5, we decided that we would try to get pregnant naturally and if it worked, great and if not, it’s not meant to be. I suffered 2 miscarriages within a year of each other, almost to the exact date! We figured it wasn’t going to happen and we should probably stop trying due to the fact of the emotional and physical toll it was taking on my body. In April 2018, we found out we were pregnant again. By this point, we had little hope. But, this pregnancy stuck and we welcomed our daughter, Porter Collins in January 2019. Again, I had a planned c-section where we decided to tie my tubes.

I have always been open with the journey we have gone through. In some ways I have found it to be therapeutic. I also never know who it’s going to help. The term miscarriage is often considered ‘taboo’ and it’s not okay for women to suffer alone!

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WPC: What have been your biggest challenges since becoming a parent?

Bryna: Becoming a parent is one of the hardest things I’ve ever done. Nothing can prepare you for it! We live across the country from our parents and siblings, so ultimately we’ve done 99% of it on our own. I thought it would get ‘easier’ as Sawyer got older but that is not true at all! At almost 8 years old, we are dealing with mean girls and drama. It’s absolutely heartbreaking to have your daughter come home from school crying over things other girls have said or done. I really didn’t think we’d be dealing with this already!

Postpartum Depression and Postpartum Anxiety are real! Wow! I didn’t have it with Sawyer, so in a sense, I wasn’t expecting it this time around. Luckily, I knew what to look for early on and went to my doctor quite quickly. It’s still a daily struggle but I am starting to come out of the ‘fog’ and realize I will be okay.

WPC: What have you found helpful to address these challenges?

Bryna: We talk with Sawyer everyday about how to deal with these situations at school or on play dates. We are also encouraging her to not become one of those girls. As for the PPD & PPA, after careful consideration, my doctor and I decided I needed some medication. I honestly couldn’t imagine where I’d be if I wasn’t on them. For now, it’s what I need to get by. I don’t know how long I will be on medication and that’s okay. Right now, they are helping me survive and be the best mom and wife I can be. I am also seeing a therapist through the Maternal Wellness team at the hospital I delivered at. They have a fantastic team there with so many different resources. I have access to their services for the first year Postpartum.

WPC: If you could go back in time, what would you tell your pregnant self?

Bryna: There is no perfect parent. We are all struggling in one way or another, despite what people are posting on their Social Media. When people offer to help, let them! No one would offer unless they truly meant it.

Your marriage will be tested and that’s totally normal. Just love and support each other as much as you can.

WPC: If you could, what is one thing you’d change about parenthood in our culture?

Bryna: Judging. Other parents judging has to be one of the hardest things I’ve dealt with. Both our girls were bottle fed due to medical conditions I have. We discussed things for years with specialists and knew this was our best option. A fed baby is a happy baby, right?! But still, no matter where I go and pull out a bottle, I am constantly judged and stared at. No one knows my reasoning. No one cares to ask. If they only knew why my girls were bottlefed, they’d maybe not be so rude. Trust me, I would have breastfed if I could! But it wasn’t the right option for my health and my girls health. At the end of the day, I know my girls are fed and healthy. But those ‘judgy eyes’ still hurt! Being a new mom is hard enough, let’s just support each other!



Tales From The Crib: Lauren

Lauren lives in Vancouver with her husband and four children. Lauren is kept quite busy working as an Occupational Therapist and raising four children, ages 9, 7 and twin 1 year olds.  

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Well Parents Centre: What have been your biggest challenges since becoming a parent? What have you found helpful to address these challenges? 

Lauren: I am a mom of 4(!!) kids ages 9, 7, and twin 1 year olds. Doubling our family from 2 kids to 4 overnight was a game changer! My largest challenge is finding balance. My whole last pregnancy I worried myself sick wondering how I would ever juggle the demands of two little babies and still give the attention needed to my "big" boys. Having to do homework with one child while nursing the other was definitely a juggling act. I have found that I have to allow people to help me - accepting help willingly and delegating are musts. I began to see myself as the "CEO" of our house and learned to embrace the organized chaos. I have also taught my older boys that we are all in this together and they are learning to help each other and their younger siblings on their paths to becoming more independent. I've learned to relish the one on one time I get to spend with each of my children every day, and do my best to make them each feel special. 

Having twins can be very isolating. It is much more challenging to go out for coffee or a mommy and baby class like you can do with a singleton. Getting out of the house is a feat in itself!! I was lucky enough to be in a Facebook group with other twin moms as well as have a few twin mom friends so it helped me realize I was not alone in this craziness. 

WPC: If you could go back in time, what would you tell your pregnant self?

Lauren: If I could back in time, I would tell myself that I was far more capable than I thought. That faced with challenges, I could rise to the occasion.  I wish I didn't spend so much time doubting myself and my partner's abilities. 

WPC: If you could, what is one thing you’d change about parenthood in our culture? 

Lauren: In this age of social media predominance, parenting sometimes can feel like a competition. Stop the madness and stop judging yourself against your social media peers. Despite appearances, I'm sure they're all struggling too! 


Tales From The Crib: Featuring Broadway's Caissie Levy

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Originally from Canada, Caissie Levy now lives in New York City with her husband and 3 year old son. In addition to raising her son, Caissie also stars as Elsa in Frozen on Broadway. 

We are so grateful for Caissie’s Tales From The Crib…

Well Parents Centre: What have been your biggest challenges since becoming a parent?

Caissie: Time management and self care are my biggest issues.  Parenthood feels like a constant battle of sacrifice.  You may be excelling at one element of life but it means you have to allow for a certain amount of failure in others.

WPC: What have you found helpful to address these challenges? 

Caissie: Talking about it is key.  With friends, your partner, whoever really.  Just remembering the you aren't alone in feeling this way is incredibly empowering.  I also keep a shared calendar with my husband and babysitters and that helps tremendously.

WPC: If you could go back in time, what would you tell your pregnant self?

Caissie: Don't buy all the new fancy gear.  That gorgeous bassinet?  Your kid will hate it and never sleep in it.  See as you go, and be open to improvising.  

WPC: So, basically what you’re saying is let it go, let it gooooo. Sorry, we couldn’t resist. If you could, what is one thing you’d change about parenthood in our culture? 

Caissie: I would make paid maternity/parental leave mandatory in the US where I live.  I would like to see companies - from the biggest to the smallest - do away with the secrecy and stress surrounding family planning and pregnancy, so women feel they have more choices both personally and professionally.


If you know a parent who would make a great feature in our Tales From The Crib series, contact us!