I’m not pregnant.

The other day while Olive napped I sat down with six cardboard file boxes and some 75% off Valentine’s Day chocolates, and I boxed away all of her baby clothes. I had rotated them out of her dresser on a fairly regular basis as she grew out of them, but the boxes were haphazardly filled and improperly labeled. Organizing, sorting and labelling them was one of those tasks that had been lurking toward the top of my to-do list just waiting for the perfect storm of supplies (boxes, chocolate), a long afternoon nap, and the emotional wherewithal to get the task done. 

I cried. Let’s just get that out of the way first.

Obviously I cried,  it’s cliche for a reason.

The tears came first when I felt the soft fabric of the onesie Adam and I dressed her in in the hospital – the two of us bending her newborn limbs with the terrified delicacy of newly-minted parents.

It was the first item of clothing she ever wore.

They filled my eyes again when I pulled out her bear snowsuit. I was flooded with memories of how excited Adam was when he picked it out, how the sight of our little bear would make people smile so big.


I felt it first, then. As the boxes filled up with neatly folded and sorted onesies, sleepers and socks, Olive’s babyhood comfortably ensconced within six cardboard boxes. I felt a low sort of emptiness. A soft, strong pull.

I have felt it every day since. Friends with babies the same age as O have begun to eagerly announce the arrivals of #2, and I pore over their ultrasounds, their positive tests. I stare at pregnant women in a way that can only be described as borderline inappropriate. I lie awake at night scrolling through pictures and watching my life pass in reverse, Olive slowly morphing back into that tiny dark creature they first placed on my chest that sweet fall morning seventeen months ago, my belly in the pictures growing then shrinking back into nonexistence.

I miss it. Oh god, do I miss that feeling of fullness, of being  – just for a few months – the physical embodiment of a wish fulfilled, a swelling bursting sort of happiness.

In the months after Olive was born, and even up until that rainy day last week, I couldn’t have identified any specific desire for another. I thought it was strange. I’ve always wanted a large family, coming from a rambunctious brood of six kids myself. I have watched Olive take her first steps, laugh so hard she falls over, learn how to blow bubbles; I have sat with these moments and more times than I can count I have thought to myself, This is enough. If this is all I ever have, this will be enough.

It still is. It still would be. But as Olive grows and becomes less and less a baby, and more and more an individual person, I also want more and more for her.

Most of all, I want for her what I had growing up, and what I have now. The crush of siblings who love and hate and amuse and tolerate you in just the right measures. I want her to know that unique, irreplaceable bond made up of shared rooms and tight hugs, overflowing anger, secrets kept and betrayed, reluctant apologies, clothing borrowed and never returned. I want her to know what it feels like to look into someone’s face and see pieces of you reflected back – in the shape of their lips or the colour of their eyes.

I want her to live in a house bursting with people who know her almost better than she knows herself, who love her as fiercely and unrelentingly as we do.

There is nothing like the feeling of wanting a child. It is different from the wanting I have felt for anything else in my life. It’s so deep and so strong that it seems to physically ache at times. It’s a sense of needing to be filled up, expanded, and it is so overwhelming that sometimes it’s all you feel.

It can take you over, if you let it.

It also feels different, this time around. The first time I felt this it was such an abstract desire.

A baby.

I wanted a baby like some people want to win the lottery, or be a bestselling author. I wanted it in a no-brainer sort of way, Of course I want a baby. Who wouldn’t?  But what that meant, a baby, it was so fuzzy. Blurred and distant. I wanted it, and looking back I don’t doubt my wanting, but this time I can capture its meaning so much tighter.

I know what this want feels like, tastes like. I know the heaviness, the fullness. I know the moment of hearing the heartbeat and knowing you are holding another life inside your own. I know meeting your child’s eyes for the first time, that strange dual sense of familiarity and strangeness. Hello, little one.

I know the sleepless nights and the breastfeeding, the feelings of pride and helplessness, success and overwhelming failure. Knowing all of this, this desire feels more authentic somehow. I know what I’m getting into. And I want it even more.

I feel greedy admitting to this want, like I am shoving my way to the front of the line to receive a second helping when some are still patiently waiting for their first. I wonder if it’s a betrayal somehow, if I should feel like one is enough.

This is what I keep turning over and over in my head, these thoughts that have become worn and smooth as stones. I imagine the pregnancy, the birth, the name, the days spent with a newborn against my chest. I imagine watching Olive become accustomed to her new brother or sister, I envision teaching her to how to be gentle, how to manage her hands and her volume and her jealousy.

I do this and I let myself get carried away, I think these thoughts all the way until Olive and #2 are both toddling around holding hands  giggling at some private joke before I remember the most crucial point in this whole matter: I am not pregnant.

Furthermore, I am not trying to become pregnant. I will likely not be pregnant for six months at least, if not later.

I had always imagined having children close in age. I remember our midwife telling me that because of my full placenta previa I would need to wait until January 2014 to get pregnant again in order to try for a VBAC. I remember doing the math, thinking “They will be two years apart. Perfect.”

But it won’t be two years now. It will be three, or three and a half even, and something small inside aches when I think of this gap. None of my siblings and I are more than two years apart. Is it too much? Will they still be close? What gets lost in that extra year? What -if anything – is gained?

Where I always end up, in this circuitous rambling swirling mass of of babies and wanting, is with the realization that children are incredibly effective at teaching you how very little you truly have control of in life.

My pregnancy with Olive taught me that lesson again and again and again until I finally submitted. I finally exhaled, and I lay down everything but my hippie vision board and I just let life happen. I am trying to remember that lesson, and how it felt to exhale.

I am trying to remember how my pregnancy with Olive was everything I didn’t want – the gestational diabetes and the placenta previa and the hospital and the c-section – and yet I still look back on those months as the being the best, the unequivocal, hands-down best days, weeks, months, moments of my life. I would re-live them again and again and again if I could.

So this was not in the plan. The flat stomach and the stack of maternity clothes lying wait in a musty box. The age gap that just keeps getting wider and wider. The creepy pregnant-lady stalking.

But, they say life is what happens when you are busy making other plans, so I am trying to stop. I am trying to let go and sit with these moments, watching Olive climb and run and learn to do butterfly kisses. I am trying to ignore the tears that well up when I look at these pictures, and instead think to myself, “This is enough. If this is all I ever have, it will be enough. ”

Because it might be.

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Selling out

So, I am considering running a few small ads on Sweet Madeleine.

Maybe.

But I want to do a little test run to work out logistics, and see what it would look like, and whether it would work for our site and benefit the advertisers.

SO, if you have a product or service you feel would fit within the scope of my site, and would like to be part of the pilot project at a reduced rate, please email me at info@sweetmadeleine.ca. 

The most useless cosmetics review ever

You know what this blog is missing? Close-ups of my eyeballs. Don’t worry, I noticed the glaring absence of eyeball photography too, and it’s high time I did something about it. 

So, Internets, feast your eyes on these…eyes…

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(Hold on, there’s a reason behind this.) 

After I collected all of my empties to send to Terracycle for recycling last week, I realized that I needed new mascara. Now, if you have ever seen me, you know that I’m not a huge makeup person, mostly out of sheer laziness and ineptitude, but one thing I do wear every day is mascara.  EVERY. DAY. 

I wear mascara every day because I strongly believe that without it, my eyes just sort of merge into the rest of my face and I immediately look:

a) Twelve

b) Exhausted, or

c) Twelve AND exhausted, which is extra rough because why is a twelve-year old so tired? Some serious shit has to be going down in a twelve-year old’s life to be looking so busted already. This worries people.

Besides, modern day societal norms have taught me nothing if not the fact that women must emphasize their eyes. Eyes must have definition. So, obedient plebe that I am, I wear mascara every day.

Prior to The Great Terracycle purge I usually wore an Almay mascara, not particularly sure which one, but I liked it because it was mild, rated low on the EWG scale and the tube was white, which, I don’t know. It pleased me somehow. 

Then. THEN I realized that while Almay says they don’t test on animals, they are owned by Revlon, which does. 

And I mean, we can argue about animal-testing for medical reasons, but I think you’d have to be a real dick to argue for animal testing of cosmetics or household products. There is just absolutely no reason to be subjecting animals to confinement and cruelty in the pursuit of longer lashes, brighter blush or shinier floors. I would rather look like a busted twelve year old, if those are my options.

So when I found out that Almay was owned by Revlon, this unsettled me, and I Terracycle-recycled the mascara (which was probably six months old anyway), and I went searching for a more animal friendly alternative. I solicited opinions on the Sweet Madeleine Facebook page and someone suggested Arbonne, and someone else suggested Pacifica.  I am currently trying to find a place online to order one or both of these because this small town of mine doesn’t carry them, but in the meantime I was rocking around looking like an exhausted pre-teen so I had to find a drugstore fix.

After intense googling and Cosmetics Database-ing I settled on this 

bareMinerals Flawless Definition Remix Collection

 

Wow. I was impressed by how businesslike this thing looked. And flawless? Decision made. I packed Olive up and we ventured forth into the world – sans mascara. 

The only issue was that  bareMinerals was nowhere to be found, (UGH why is my life so hard?) so, in the aisles of a Shoppers Drug Mart while Olive tore apart several cosmetics displays, I took to my phone to frantically cross-reference virtually every drugstore brand out there to find one with good reviews, a sub-3 Cosmetics Database rating, and a cruelty-free status. The only one I was able to come up in my haphazard googling that satisfied all of these requirements was this hot little number:

Physicians Formula Organic Wear Fake Out Mascara

Granted, the name’s not as stupendous, but the tube is hot pink and with Olive trying to eat nail polish, a decision had to be made. 

I also realized, as I sat down to write this useless review, that all of that googling was not wasted because I happened across a lot of other beauty product reviews, specifically for mascara. And what I learned from these ladies, was that closeups of eyeballs were a MUST for mascara reviews. Apparently no one wants to see the rest of your face, they want the GOODS! Get to the point!

So, I figured I would join the party. Here are my eyeballs, sans mascara, doing my best death-stare (this is SERIOUS):

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and after, SO EXCITED that I have mascara on.

First of all, the most important thing to note is that I used a colour-picker tool to exactly match the font colour of the before/after text to my eye colour, and it came out as a muddy green, which confounded me because I always thought my eyes were grey-blue. So I had to take a few moments to let that sink in, change my drivers licence, ask Adam what colour my eyes are, yell at Adam for not knowing what colour my eyes are, etc. 

Second, never take close-ups of your eyeballs with a good camera. Who knew my eyes were so veiny and bloodshot? Who knew I had one eyelash that grew at a weird slant? Who knew I needed to pluck above my eyebrows, too? Why has no one told me these things? After uploading these photos I have realized that clearly, finding a decent mascara is the least of my problems.

Third, and most relevant to this post (or maybe not) is the review, so here it is: It’s mascara. It’s…black? I don’t know, it made me look like I have eyelashes where I didn’t before. It didn’t, like, burn me or anything, so that’s a bonus. 

I guess I’m not that much of a discerning makeup pro because I don’t really know what else to say about this. I really like it, it did what it was supposed to do and I feel whole again.

What else? The wand was…useful. In applying the mascara, I mean. OH! It smudged slightly after a few hours. But I was also rubbing my face a whole lot while sighing and clenching my teeth, because Olive kept falling to the floor in dramatic tears at the slightest provocation, so I mean…we can probably chalk that up to user error.

Bottom line? Please do some research and support companies that don’t test on animals. And make sure you’re not inadvertently testing noxious chemicals on you by checking your makeup at CosmeticsDatabase.com.

Here’s another picture, you know, just in case you want to pin this incredibly helpful review. 

You’re welcome.

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The Law of Diminishing Messes

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I own you.

I feel like some of you might have realized this before I did.

I also feel as though this realization has been slowly dawning on me bit by bit until the full force of it hit me yesterday as I was cleaning up the recycling bin Olive had just unpacked, while trying to convince her to let me wipe her hands clean of the 1/2 water, 1/2 drool concoction they were covered in from splashing around in Gus’s water dish, and also simultaneously trying to prevent her from making a beeline for the compost (AKA “The Buffet”).

In the midst of this headed-in-three-directions chaos I realized:

I have a toddler

A TODDLER. You know, one of those. I have heard stories about those toddler people.

For example, did you know that toddlers are basically little sociopaths with absolutely zero concept of right or wrong? Pre-baby, this statement would have offended me. These days as I watch Olive face-rake her cousins while laughing hysterically I am like, “Yep. Sounds about right.”

Seriously, they are a blank slate and you must teach them everything. Like why pain isn’t funny. And why garbage isn’t food. And why you don’t touch poop. And gravity.

Guys, she is so busy! She runs around emptying things and chasing things, and as soon as you have got one mess cleaned up you turn around and she’s eating dog food again and then when you are catching your breath from pinning her down to extricate the dog food she’s somehow climbed on top of the toilet waving a blender blade and AHH!

Sitting is over. The only time you can get stuff done is when she is restrained somehow. So: high chair or crib. Everything gets done in nap time and mealtime. And I had always seen those photos, you know those cutesy little, “Oops! Look what Susie got into!” photos that depict a cherubic child knee-deep in flour, or a grinning baby covered in marker. What I didn’t realize – and I totally have to give credit to parents for their restraint  in this matter (and also please excuse my language, someone left a comment the other day calling it “foul” and I’m sorry, I just can’t avoid it sometimes) – was that this scene? That chaos? It’s EVERY FUCKING DAY. 

Every day! How do people do it! How do people with more than one child, or twins, or like my insane mother, six children, do it?

I used to see those “Sensory activity bags” on Pinterest and think they were make-work projects for people who had too much time on their hands. Now I understand that they are projects designed for people with too much toddler on their hands who would like to be able to occupy them long enough get some real work done. Otherwise you are just operating under something delightful that I have named “The Law Of Diminishing Messes”, which I will helpfully explain for you here.

The Law of Diminishing Messes

It goes like this: In order to get any chores done with a toddler around, you must first find something to occupy them. Since the entire room full of toys designed specifically for this purpose obviously won’t do, you must allow them to make a mess. And in order to be at all productive, this mess must be a bit smaller than the one you are trying to clean up in the first place.

So while you are tackling a big mess (like vacuuming in order to be able to see your carpet under the drifts of Gus hair, for example), you allow the toddler to make a smaller mess, like scattering the contents of the recycling bin from one end of the kitchen to the other.

Then as you tidy up the recycling, they unpack the tupperware drawer.

Then as you re-pack the tupperware drawer, they spill gluten-free “Cheerios” all over the floor.

And as you and Gus clean up the gluten-free “Cheerios”, they start wandering around with a sieve on their head which requires basically no cleanup. Yay!

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The Law of Diminishing Messes means that although you have, in fact, cleaned up four messes (dog hair, recycling, tupperware, and “cheerios”) fully three-quarters of those messes didn’t even exist before you started to clean up the first mess.

Congratulations, you are now 75% less efficient than you were before you hatched this demon. 

Those of you who have toddlers are nodding. Those who don’t are starting to understand why shit never seems to get done. Because honestly, if you see a mom-friend in the morning, and you see her again eight hours later and her house looks exactly the same as it did before you may have thought to yourself (admit it), “What do you do all day?”

But now you know. The majority of her time goes simply toward maintaining the status quo and making sure things don’t get worse. The other quarter goes to preventing dog-food ingestion, death/dismemberment by gravity/sharp objects, changing diapers, swilling coffee, etc.

It’s a basic law, I mean, physics, right? Somebody should really tell Newton.