5 Hacks for the Perfect Santa Picture

Oh…holy…night!! 

It’s that time of year again. Time to pick out wee outfits and wee shoes and frilly blouses they’ll never wear again and plop them down on some weird guy’s lap so they can whisper in his ear and tell him what they want for Christmas. A truly magical moment. That being said, we always seem to find a way to make this Christmas tradition happen. A lot of times, it ends up a complete gong show, but take a look at the hacks I rocked with my daughter and at the very least, you’ll have done everything humanly possible do to get that perfect picture with Santa Claus.

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Baby G and XXXXY Syndrome: Toxic Thoughts of a Special Needs Parent

When it comes to being a parent, we all tend to think that we’re not doing enough, that our punishments are too harsh, that our voices are too loud, or our fuses too short. When it comes to being the parent of a kid with special needs, every so often, we also think other thoughts that are even less rational than that. But first, an update on the G-Man.

It's ok to have awful thoughts about being a special needs parent. Most of us are scared of what we don't understand, what we can't predict or control.

How He’s Handling XXXXY Syndrome

Physio: Baby G is really starting to come along with his gross motor. We’ve been lucky enough to borrow a walker from Niagara Children’s Centre for a few weeks, and so Baby G has been able to practice at day care every day.

Fine Motor: Our physiotherapist is away for a few weeks, so we’ve supplemented with appointments to focus on fine motor and speech. He’s showing a lot of progress with pointing and pressing with a single finger, putting puzzle pieces back into their places, and working on his pincer motion with his thumb and forefinger. Our occupational therapist gave us some stretches to do with his shoulders, loosening up his upper back to encourage more freedom of movement. She also gave us some wrist strengthening exercises to do that will give him more range of motion when he plays.

Speech: This is probably where Baby G is showing the least improvement because of the delays his extra chromosomes cause. He does babble, and mimic certain sounds, but mostly are “ah’s or “o’s”, very few consonant sounds. There are times when I’ll get a good “mama” or a “hello” that’s definite and distinguishable, but those are few and far between. After discussing our concerns with his speech therapist, she suggested another hearing test, just to make sure what he is hearing and what, if anything, he’s not.

He’s starting to play with us more and more, and loves it when his sister plays peekaboo with him. He’s starting to dance to music when he hears it, and really enjoys watching PAW Patrol, so I’ll be hearing that theme song for another three years.

How We’re Handling XXXXY Syndrome 

When I found out that my son had XXXXY Syndrome, I really didn’t have time to react at first. I was too busy filling out forms and answering questions to actually think about what it might mean, how it would change my life, or how it would change me.

I remember doing exactly what the doctor told me not to do, and that was look up his condition online. There’s a good way to stress yourself out, looking at cases of genetic disorders that are 30 years old, and filled with hard, medical terminology describing the physical and developmental abnormalities of an innocent little boy. Ya, I was an idiot.

While I wasn’t hysterical, I was scared, and some pretty toxic thoughts popped in and out of my head during that time. I suspect they will materialize in the future as well; it’s only natural. And that’s what I want to acknowledge here. While we all do our best with our boys, there’s no denying that occasionally, the scared little kid in us comes out with the truly ridiculous and irrational idea that we can’t be the parent of a special needs child.

“My eggs are bad.” – Oh ya, I went there, but certainly didn’t stay long. How much energy could I have spent stewing over my body, my womanhood that I literally had zero control over? Pfffh, decades if I wanted to, but for some reason, I didn’t let that thought stick around. I pushed it out of my head and moved on. But I did have it, and that’s ok.

“I Can’t Do This” – I really had no idea what to expect. I thought about parents of kids with disorders and syndromes, physical disabilities and behavioral issues and thought there’s no way I could do what those parents do. They’re powerhouses. They go through struggles with their kids hourly and get the shit kicked out of them until the end of the day when they finally collapse. Will it be like that? I can’t do that. I’m not that kind of person. I won’t have patience for it. I won’t have the stamina. How will I relate to my son? I’m scared I’ll want to quit. It’s amazing how the unknown can make us feel so insecure that we question ourselves, and hinder any chance of discovering what we’re really capable of when it comes to our kids.

“I’m Not Doing Enough” – Just had this one a couple of weeks ago. Baby G was showing progress, but I wondered if it was enough. At the end of the day, we eat dinner as a family, play and watch TV and then it’s bedtime. It leaves so little time to work on physiotherapy, speech, or fine motor with him. I’m relying on his day care provider for most of his development. Pretty big deal. There are days where I look at him and I feel like a failure, but to let that permeate my head? That won’t do him any good at all.

I consider myself extremely lucky to have found out about Baby G’s XXXXY Syndrome while I was still pregnant with him. Some parents experience such sudden change that they can barely catch their breath before they’re overwhelmed with scheduled therapies, wellness plans, and counseling strategies. I’m not sure how I would cope a situation that was not as gradual as the one I’ve been (quite frankly) blessed with.

I’m realizing now all that I didn’t understand, all that I’d assumed about special needs kids and their parents, and all that I’d wondered about, but never asked. And while those nasty, unproductive, irrational thoughts might pop into my brain from time to time, I’m secure enough to acknowledge them, feel the feelings, think the words, keep what matters, and dispel the rest.

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How I Knew I Had Postpartum Depression

How I knew I had postpartum depressionPostpartum depression is the single hardest thing I’ve ever had to contend with in my life. Don’t get me wrong, giving birth was no picnic either, but having my recovery sabotaged by a dirty little mental illness just made everything so much harder. Postpartum depression is a sneaky little bastard that creeps up on you when you least expect it. It hides in and among your already-raging hormones, stealthily camouflaging itself, praying not to get caught.

But I did. I caught that bugger red-handed, treated it and now I’m the best mom I can be.

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I’m a Mom, But That’s Not Who I Am

Before I became a mother, I was nice. I was friendly and giving and kind. I wasn’t selfish or mean. I hardly ever got angry. I’d go out of my way to help my friends. They trusted me. They thought I was a good person. I was well-liked and reliable. I wasn’t a bitch.

Motherhood has changed me.

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5 Things Canadian Parents Can Be Thankful For

Parenthood is the hardest thing I have ever done. It brings me so much joy and laughter, but with it so much utter insecurity and frustration. I’m snuggling and giggling with my daughter one minute, and negotiating a new bedtime story contract via an arbitrator the next. As if dealing with estrogen wasn’t already a pain in the ass, now I get to ride the ups and downs of child-rearing too.

And while all this is true for most parents, there are things in our lives that actually make the business of parenthood a lot easier. We Canadian parents in particular have it a lot better than we might realize on a day-to-day basis. We take these things for granted, while we’re trying to ignore the judgemental stares of the general public as our toddler throws an earth-shattering tantrum in the cereal isle.

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