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Coping with Worry as a Mom

“Making the decision to have a child – it is momentous. It is to decide forever to have your heart go walking around outside your body. ”
Elizabeth Stone

When my son was born, I couldn’t believe everything that I started to fret about.  It really was like holding my own heart outside my body, and leaving it completely exposed.

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This is what my heart looks like outside my body.

Was he breathing ok?  Did I swaddle him too tight? One night he was just a little TOO still after I had gotten him to sleep; I gasped and practically threw him down on the bed to inspect him and those beady little eyes opened wide, in an instant, before his brow furrowed to tell me he did not appreciate this interruption.  I resumed getting him to sleep from square one.  Sigh.

Of course, the fact that we worry is an indicator of our love – it is because we love and value these little individuals so much that the thought of anything happening to them is just too much to bear.

Fast forward to 20 months later, and I still have worrying spells.

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Yep, that’s a belt around his neck. IT… NEVER… STOPS

I get to my desk at work and then my mind runs through some of the things that could go wrong, like someone spilling coffee on him, or [insert awful thing that happened to a child recently].  It’s a normal part of parenting, to some extent. I suspect there is a genetic component as well, as my mother,  constantly worries that her grandson isn’t eating enough.  Like really worries.  Nevermind that he is developing well, tall for his age, and of average weight.

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Look at this fear-mongering book. Yes, you read that right “Parenting with Wit and Wisdom in times of chaos and loss” – SERIOUSLY?!

I know I’ll worry about him the rest of his life, but I try to keep it in check because it’s hard to enjoy life and be a good mom if you are constantly stressed.

Anxiety is Linked with Sleep Deprivation

Have you ever noticed that worrying can get a lot worse when you haven’t slept?  Yup, it’s is a side-effect of sleep deprivation, among others.  My labour lasted 36 joyous hours during which I hardly slept.  Then, those first few nights with him as a newborn I couldn’t sleep because I was so worried something would happen to him while he slept, like that he would roll over and get smothered.  It was a constant-panic clusterBEEP.  Plus my emotions were going insane – I would cry at the mere MENTION of that awful book that rhymes with “Shove You For-Leather.” If you must know, it’s this.

My Coping Strategies

One strategy I found helpful was self talk.  I would say to myself (in my head, but sure, out loud works too), “I am sleep deprived, and I am thinking these thoughts because of this state.  I need to focus on what I can do to get me back to a normal…ish state (cuz let’s not reach too high here)” and then I would try my best to take a nap and/or do a relaxation CD.  Does it sound ridiculous? Maybe.  But it really does help.  I also focus on the fact that the moment will pass, much like I learned to do with contractions during labour.  I guess those hypno-birthing techniques continue to come in handy, which by the way, can reduce the need for pain medication during labour.

Resources for Managing Anxiety and Worry

I thought the Mayo Clinic’s list of resources on this was pretty darn good – it even includes some apps!  Check it out here.

The Canadian Mental Health Association also has some great info on mental health as it coincides with parenting.

If in doubt, it’s best to talk to your doc about how you are feeling.  When you think about all that our bodies go through to create a baby, it’s no wonder that birth and its aftermath can have a huge impact on us psychologically as well.

Do you guys have any good tips to share?  Let us know in the comments.

DISCLAIMER: As a (former) lawyer and current expert on Hagen Daaz Rocky Road consumption, I am not qualified to give medical advice of any kind.

The Top 5 Ways for New Moms to Get Social

Social interaction makes us happier.  We’re social creatures, after all.   New moms are part of a very lucky minority if they have pre-existing friends who have babies around the same time AND they happen to live within walking distance.  But you know what?  The rest of us are lucky too;  getting social in your neighbourhood and meeting new friends is a lot of fun!  And listen, it’s not just about fun.  It’s also about being supported as a mom, which is pretty crucial.

Playdates? All my baby does is eat, poop and sleep!

Other moms are an awesome resource when it comes to support, advice, venting, fun or you name it.  Finding other moms with kids your age is important, because they’ll be managing the same developmental milestones and challenges as you are.  The experiences will still be fresh in their mind.

Fast friends.
Fast friends.

The 5 Best Ways to Get Social in Toronto as a New Mom

Great, so we’ve established that it’s fab to have mommy friends.  You’re thinking, “yes, I see these moms in my neighbourhood, but what am I supposed to do – accost them on the street?”  Well, hey, not saying I haven’t done it myself (this is how I met my neighbor 4 doors down the street), but there are some less daunting ways:

1.  Ontario Early Years Centres

Check out your local Ontario Early Years Centre.  They often have FREE drop-ins for moms with babies of a defined age.  Bonus, free snacks for you and baby!  At least there was at ours.  Just be careful to check which ones require prior registration.  If in doubt, take a quick second to call and find out.   They post calendars online so you know what and when is happening.  Find your local OEYC here:

You mean we're going OUTSIDE in this weather?
You mean we’re going OUTSIDE in this weather?

2.  Baby Programming

Sign up for some good ol’ baby programming.  The City of Toronto offers various very cost effective options, like Mom and Baby Yoga, Creative Play Time, Singing Circle Time, etc… Courses are generally around $40 for one session.  Check your local Fun Guide to see the options here.  Unfortunately, be prepared to do battle on registration day for these incredibly cost-effective options. We’ve got you covered though –  a guide for that too.

Other options include music classes like Rainbow Songs or Making Music Together.

3.  Baby Friendly Drop-Ins

When your baby is a bit older, find a local baby-friendly coffee shop or play centre.  In East End Toronto we have Sprouts, and Oaks n’ Acorns.  Bilingual?  There are a few services that offer circle time in different languages too!  I’ll need some help from moms in the comments here 🙂

4.  Virtual Mommy Groups

Search mommy groups on Meetup and Facebook for groups focused on your geographic location.  For example, there’s East Toronto Young Mothers, run by Emily Weinmann, and North York Toronto Moms run by Lily Cheng.  Lily’s group even runs some of its own events, which is pretty awesome.

5.  Find your Most Local Moms

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Sure I love my furry sister but let’s bust this joint.

Lastly, try Villagemommy.com, where you’ll be able to find moms near you with a similarly aged baby, parenting style, career and more (free!).   It’s a great way to meet the mom on your street or around the corner who you might never have known was there… A full site is launching soon.  In the interim, matching is done via email.

What do you think moms, did I miss anything?  See you in the comments!