Bruschetta for me and Bruschetta for you!

I love love love restaurants. Being served, choosing from a variety of dishes knowing that I don’t have to lift a finger is bliss. Then the fact that I don’t have to clean up or wash any dishes is also what fills my heart with joy.

Other than going out to restaurants to dine, I enjoy cooking for friends and family. When I lived in London we couldn’t always go out to dinner. Having a new baby meant that we were confined to the house when our friends had plans. So I decided to start inviting people around for dinner. Best solution ever. We got to spend time with our friends and socialize while the baby was asleep in the next room.

One of the dishes I loved making for my guests is tomato, basil and mozzarella bruschetta. As a starter it is simply delicious. It is quick to make and people always really seemed to enjoy it.

 

Brushette

INGREDIENTS

  • 2 handfuls nice mixed ripe cherry tomatoes
  • 1 small bunch fresh basil , leaves picked
  • sea salt
  • freshly ground black pepper
  • olive oil
  • good-quality white wine or herb vinegar
  • 2 large French baguettes, sliced
  • 1 ½ pounds fresh mozzarella cheese, sliced

DIRECTIONS

  1. Slice bread and toast under the grill/broil in the oven or in a griddle pan
  2. Rub each slice of toast with a cut garlic clove then drizzle with some extra virgin olive oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper
  3. Wash the cherry tomatoes, place the cherry tomatoes in a deep bowl and squash them roughly
  4. Tear the basil and put into the bowl, season with salt and pepper and add some olive oil and some vinegar
  5. Slice the mozzarella and place into the bowl with the rest of the ingredients
  6. Place the mix on top of each sliced piece of bread and drizzle with the remaining sauce, then put under the grill to lightly warm them.

 

Enjoy with friends in the comfort of your own home!

 

Bon Apettit!

 

 

 

 

 

Advertisements

Operation: Where’s the engagement ring?

After I found out I was pregnant I decided that seeing as it was all a surprise and my boyfriend was only 24 years old I wouldn’t pressure him to stick around. Obviously what I wanted more than anything else was to marry him and start a family the way I had always wanted. The one thing I knew back then was that when men are pushed into something they are not ready for they either pull away completely, they resent you or they rebel in some way.

The truth is I never wanted him to be able to turn around and say that he was forced to marry me, or that he was only with me because he had no other choice. I could imagine us having a fight and him shouting that his life would have been better if I had never gotten pregnant. It sounds harsh but when something so unexpected happens to you, all you can think about is not making it worse.

We had of course talked about getting married and having kids but all of that was meant to happen when we were 30, not 24! As the months went by he started changing his habits. He went out less, drank less and started behaving more responsibly. All of this reassured me and gave me hope that he might propose before the baby arrived and then we could get married. We had our trip planned to Egypt, Jordan and Israel (see Travel section for post) and I was secretly hoping that he would propose to me then. What is better than a romantic holiday for a proposal?

dahab moni

So there we are in our second destination of the trip, Dahab, a beautiful little beach town on the east coast of Egypt. We had four nights there before we would move on to Jordan. The first couple of nights we just had dinner around the hotel and did day trips to the blue hole for some snorkeling, shopping in the market, sunbathing by the pool. The third night he had made a reservation at a fancy restaurant on the beach. I was certain this was the night he was going to propose. I figured that if he was going to propose at all it would be in a romantic restaurant as opposed to when camping in the dessert.

by the beach

I showered and got ready for the date first. While he was showering and shaving I started to panic. What if he didn’t want to marry me? What if he didn’t even have a ring? That’s when I decided that I needed to check to see if he had a ring. I wouldn’t look in the box but at least that way I would know if he had a plan to propose. If he didn’t, I would have time to deal with the disappointment. So, as he was showering I started going through his rucksack, I looked everywhere, emptying every pocket, looking inside every sock, checking his jean pockets. I LOOKED EVERYWHERE!!! He was about to come out of the bathroom and I hadn’t found anything. NO RING FOR MONICA!!!

I was very disappointed but I didn’t want him to notice so I tried to not let him see me cry. We were finally ready so we headed to the hotel lobby to take a taxi to the restaurant. We arrived a little earlier than our reservation so he suggested we go for a walk on the beach. I, of course, was in no mood to go for a beach walk. I was so heartbroken I just wanted to eat and then go to sleep, but he insisted we go for a walk. As we were walking around he stopped to point out how beautiful the stars looked. He bent down to buckle his shoelace. Then he said to me “hey can you hold this for me while I tie my shoes?”. As I looked over he was kneeling down with a tiny little blue box in his hand. He said that I was his best friend, that he loved me more than anyone could ever love somebody. That he wanted my face to be the first thing he saw every morning and the last thing he saw before he went to sleep and would I do him the honor of being is wife.

I couldn’t believe it. I had given up hope. I was crushed and in one second he filled me with so much love that I felt like I was going to float away. That is how the girl who was accidentally pregnant got everything she ever wanted.

 

 

NB: If you ever plan going to Egypt I recommend going to Cairo, doing a cruise down the Nile to visit Luxor and Kings Valley and visiting Dahab. We normally just buy flights and then we plan the rest of our trip out ourselves. I know that people sometimes prefer having their trips with guides. There are many great travel companies that can plan your whole trip out. Check out TripAdvisor for some info.

http://www.tripadvisor.com/Tourism-g297547-Dahab_South_Sinai_Red_Sea_and_Sinai-Vacations.html

 

 

Honey Garlic Shrimp to the rescue!!!

tube anger

One of my all-time favorite meals is shrimp. Shrimp cocktail, popcorn shrimp, you name it, I’ll eat it. Aside from the delicious taste one of the things I love about shrimp is that it is quick and easy to cook. When I lived in England I worked full-time and I was a full-time mom and wife. After work I would have to rush to the tube station to catch my train or I would be late to pick up my daughter from nursery. If you have ever put your child into a nursery you know that they are ruthless. For every minute you are late they charge you $15 (its extortion)! After a very stressful journey on a sweaty, crowded train I would arrive to pick up my daughter at 6pm. After her 10 hour day in nursery she was exhausted so the bus journey home was less than ideal, especially during her terrible two’s when she would have full blown meltdowns and slither off the seat onto the floor as strangers silently judged me. Once we got home (by this point I’m exhausted and running on fumes) I had to figure out a way to keep her happy while I cooked dinner. This meal filled my tummy and put a smile on my face many times, hope you enjoy it.

 

Bon Apettit!

Honey-Garlic-Shrimp-and-Broccoli-1b

INGREDIENTS

  • 1 lb. shrimp, peeled and deveined with tail on
  • Bag of Couscous
  • 1 ½ cup of broccoli
  • 1 teaspoon of minced garlic
  • ½ teaspoon of minced ginger
  • 4 tablespoons of honey
  • 2 tablespoons of soy sauce

 

DIRECTIONS

  1. Cook Couscous as per packet instructions
  2. Combine all of the sauce ingredients in a dish creating a marinade
  3. Place the raw shrimp in half of the sauce and allow to marinade (ideally for 15-30min). Discard the marinade
  4. Over medium to high heat in a skillet pan sear the shrimp in some oil , about 1 min per side
  5. Warm the remaining sauce in the skillet with the broccoli
  6. Place the shrimp on a bed of couscous and drizzle with the remaining sauce and broccoli

Here comes the Fear of Everything

Fear

I have never considered myself to be a fearful person. I’m cautious, responsible and aware of potential dangers but have never been the kind of person that lets fear come between her and something she wants to do. When I was younger I practiced gymnastics and at our gym there was a saying drawn on the wall “don’t let fear steal your dreams”. Now in gymnastics this is a crucial factor. When you are trying to do a flip in a balance beam towering over the ground below or you and running full speed ahead towards a stationary vault you cannot allow fear to enter your mind even for a second. If you let fear in you freeze up and that is when you could really get hurt. My worst injury in gymnastics was on the balance beam when I landed with the whole weight and force of my body onto my “private parts” and cut myself in ways I didn’t even know were possible. Needless to say that after that my confidence was never the same. I ended up retiring from gymnastics once I realized the fear was there to stay. Why risk it right?

bella hospital

Well, when becoming a mom I was in for a crash course in not letting fear take hold of me. When I delivered my baby girl she had no heartbeat and was not breathing. She was given chest compressions and intubated and rushed to the NICU. She spent the first five days of her life in the NICU and unfortunately I had a series of medical complications which meant I was not able to leave my hospital bed. The above photo is the first time I got to see my daughter. My husband took the photo once they had stabilized her and he printed it out for me to keep until I was able to meet her in person.

I spent nine months waiting to meet this tiny human and then when she finally arrives I don’t even get to meet her. Talk about soul crushing. Everyone that came to visit got to go and meet her and then they would come and visit me and tell me all about her. I was so grateful that everyone had taken the time to come meet her but inside I was crying every time I heard from someone else what my little girl was like.

Not letting fear consume me was all I could think about. When it is 1am and you get woken up by neonatal doctors telling you that your baby has an infection that isn’t responding to antibiotics and they need to get your consent to give her a lumbar puncture it’s kinda hard to not go into full on panic mode. Not to mention when the next day they tell you that there is swelling in her brain and a small bleed. Talk about experiencing the Fear Factor of parenting straight off the bat. I had only one choice and that was to trust that my baby was in God’s hands and he was guiding all the doctors. I knew I would get to meet her eventually and until then I had to make sure I took care of myself and recovered.

hospital.jpg

Finally, on the fifth day I was able to go and meet my baby. It was hard not to cry when I was wheeled into the NICU and saw her covered in cables, feeding tube into her nose, bruising on her tiny face from the forceps. When I finally got to hold her it was bliss. A real miracle occurred when she recovered a lot faster than they expected and on the 7th day we were allowed to go home.

Our first night back in our apartment was the scariest of all. The reality finally kicked in, we were home alone (no medical staff around to rescue us) in charge of a tiny human…… Talk about fear kicking in, we took turns through the night making sure she was still breathing. At one point she was so still my hubby put his finger under her nose to make sure she was breathing, when he couldn’t feel anything he decided the best thing would be to place his hand on her chest and give her a little nudge. I have never been more terrified.

Becoming a mom certainly makes you more acutely aware of all the possible dangers in your every day life. Some nights I would lie in bed and think about all the things that could go wrong…. It’s a good thing I’m not normally a fearful person otherwise I doubt I ever would have left my house. I see mom’s who are terrified of letting their kids be touched by friends and family without a complete wipe down with antibacterial wipes, moms who wont let their kids go on play-date for fear that something might happen while they are away and of course the helicopter moms I see on the playground who don’t let their kids out of their sight for a second and their arms are always outstretched ready to catch. I don’t judge them, I don’t think anything badly about the ways they chose to deal with these fears that parenting seem to awaken within us.

All I know is that I am grateful that over the years the fears have subsided and now with my second child they are almost non-existent. Charlie is the kid that eats leaves off the floor at the park, or the kid who gets to play on the jungle-gym and then gets to have a snack without even washing his little hands. He falls all the time and being a boy he definitely likes to climb everything he sets his eyes on, so I guess it’s a good thing I have learned to let fear go and embrace the unknown.

Charlie swin

 

Drink my blood if you think it will help your story-line!

For some reason teen angst always gets me going. My hubby detests the fact that I enjoy movies like Twilight, Harry Potter and shows like The Secret Life of the American Teenager, Pretty Little Liars and The Vampire Diaries. He says that as a 30 something year old I need to watch stuff that is age appropriate….I say…screw that!! I love me some teenage drama. Takes me back to the days when I had a huge crush on the same guy as one of my friends and he told us he liked both of us as well and was going to get to know us and then decide who he would ask to be his girlfriend. Of course my friend had the advantage because she was in the same classroom as him so it was no surprise when at the school bonfire party he picked her (I cried). I have been watching The Vampire Diaries since it first aired on the CW. The love between Elena and Stefan Salvatore was palpable.  The show has all the ingredients for a hit: the annoying blonde best friend, the witchy best friend, the super-hot devious brother Damon Salvatore, and the all-American best guy-pal Matt Donovan. The fact that the series was based on the novels made sure the script was kick-ass.

TVD s7

We are now on season 7 and things are beginning to change for TVD. So far the show has offered us a love triangle between two brothers, a best friend that discovers she is a witch, a brother who becomes a vampire hunter, a dead aunt/guardian, a teacher/vampire hunter, a best friend forced to become a vampire, a friend who is cursed as a werewolf and a long list of scrumptious villain’s (Klaus, Katherine, Enzo).

Let me start off by saying that the loss of Elena Gilbert (Nina Dobrev) is by far the worst thing that could have happened to this show. I have no idea why she decided to leave but what I do know is that she was the glue that held everything together. TVD are going to pull out all the stops if they are going to keep us hooked on this show. To add insult to injury they have moved the show from its successful Thursday night spot to the less coveted nosebleed Friday night.  So far only one episode has aired at its new time but from an article I read early this week looks like TVD is in trouble.

Season 7 has centered mainly on the hatred that Damon feels towards his mother, who has taken Elena his love away from him. We also have the Heretics who have taken over Mystic Falls and pose a threat to everyone the come across. Alaric is busy trying to get his dead pregnant wife to come back to life. Caroline finally gets what she has secretly always wanted, Stefan, but things aren’t as easy as she would hope when his long lost love/baby mamma comes back.  So far season 7 has left me disappointed and wanting more. Perhaps after seven years the critics are right and this show has run its course. I honestly hope that’s not the case and that by some miracle Julie Plec can turn it around.

TVD

For now, my Friday night is clear (the hubby is at a soccer match this evening so I don’t have to endure his criticism) as I await episode 11 which happens to be directed by Paul Wesley (Stefan Salvatore). Last week we watched Damon’s soul trapped inside the Phoenix Stone, where he was stuck reliving his own personal hell while Bonnie and the others tried to bring him back. He awakens to find that he has “killed” all of them in a moment of desperation. Let’s see if this next episode is worth my time and my popcorn.

Totally addicted to……ME!!!

As a mommy (actually as a human)  I think it is very important to have a sense of well-being, being able to function during everyday life and feeling confident to rise to a challenge when the opportunity arises. Just like you go to the gym or an exercise class to look after your physical health, there are actions you can take to increase your mental health. You can boost your wellbeing and stay mentally healthy for your family by following a few simple steps.

  1. Connect with others. As a mom its easy to sacrifice your own friendships and get completely swallowed up in your kids lives. It’s important though to maintain your friendships and develop new ones with people who will support and enrich your life.
  2. Take time to enjoy. Making sure that before the day is over you have set aside time for hobbies, activities or projects you enjoy is important. Let yourself be spontaneous and creative when the urge takes you. You may not be able to take time to enjoy yourself everyday but make sure you get a babysitter, set up a playdate or get your other half to look after the kiddos while you indulge in something that makes you happy. Hiking
  3. Participate and share interests. Being part of a group of people with a common interest provides a sense of belonging and is good for your mental health. Taking the time to join a club or a group who share your interests will keep you motivated and will help you connect.
  4. Contribute to your community. Volunteer your time for a cause or issue that you care about. Do something nice for a friend, a neighbor. Get involved in your child’s school. There are so many great ways to contribute that can help you feel good about yourself and your place in the world. They say that an effort to improve the lives of others is sure to improve your life too.
  5. Take care of yourself. As I have said before being active and eating well are important – these help maintain a healthy body. Physical and mental health are closely linked; it’s easier to feel good about life if your body feels good. You don’t have to go to the gym to exercise – stay active. Combine physical activity with a balanced diet to nourish your body and mind and keep you feeling good, inside and out.              healthy mind.png
  6. Challenge yourself.  I find that as a mother I am challenged every day. Perhaps you need an extra challenge so you could learn a new skill or take on a challenge to meet a goal. You could take on something different at work; commit to a fitness goal or learn to cook a new recipe. Your mental fitness is improved when you learn. Meeting your own goals builds skills and confidence and gives you a sense of progress and achievement.
  7. Deal with stress. Be aware of what triggers your stress and how you react. Stress is a part of life and affects people in different ways. It only becomes a problem when it makes you feel uncomfortable or distressed. Find a way to wind down every day.
  8. Rest and refresh. Sleep restores both your mind and body. As a new mom it is hard to make sure you get plenty of sleep. It is important to try to go to bed at a regular time each day and practice good habits to get better sleep.
  9. Notice the here and now. As life gets chaotic around you don’t forget to simply ‘be’ in the moment. It’s easy to be caught up thinking about the past or planning for the future instead of experiencing the present.
  10. Ask for help. This can be as simple as asking a friend to babysit while you have some time out or speaking to your doctor about where to find a counsellor or community mental health service. The perfect, worry-free life does not exist. Everyone’s life journey has bumpy bits and the people around you can help. If you don’t get the help you need first off, keep asking until you do.

A mentally stable and happy mother is the best thing for her kiddos. It is easy to push our needs and prioritize those of the family. It’s tempting to do this but it is not sustainable, eventually you will crash and burn. You may find yourself screaming at your three year old for something minor or that you are constantly arguing with your other half. Before you know it things will be a mess and you won’t even know where to start to fix it. Make mental health and wellbeing a priority in your life today- Your family will thank you for it!

Crying in an airplane toilet! Are we there yet???

Are you crazy? You are traveling on a plane to the South of France with a four week old baby? What about the germs? How will you cope? These are some of the things my husband and I first heard when we decided to take our daughter to Nice, France when she was a month old. We wanted some sunshine and we decided that rainy London wasn’t good enough for us to spend the summer even if we had just had a baby!

Nice with Bella

I have to say that the one thing I hear over and over from fellow moms is their fear of traveling with an infant. It seems to be the one scenario that really stresses them out and worries them. Perhaps it’s the idea of being on a plane so high up that their life is literally in someone else’s hands but I think it’s the fear of the unknown. Sure, many new moms and dads are frequent flyers so you would think that flying for them is second nature and in turn doing it with an infant is not a problem. That’s where you would be wrong. Almost every person that has been on a plane has at some point or another shared that flight with a screaming child (baby, toddler, etc.). For many that can be a scaring experience. So much so that when they have a child and it’s their turn to fly they are plagued with insecurities of how the flight will play out.

My daughter is 7 years old and she has been to almost ten countries already (Morocco, Ireland, France, Italy, Mexico, etc.). She is a seasoned traveler and behaves impeccably. Of course it wasn’t always smooth sailing, we had to train her and teach her the do’s and don’ts of flying. Every parent is entitled to a holiday, to leave their everyday lives and go experience a little piece of paradise even if it is just for a few days. I hope that this list helps either reassure you in your travels with a child or gives you some ideas of how to cope.

Family on a plane

  1. Adjust your expectations:

The biggest mistake you can make is to think too optimistically. I’m not saying you have to dread the journey and only look forward to the destination. I’m saying that it is important that you are aware of the possible issues that may arise during your trip. If you can envisage what could possibly go wrong during the flight it will help calm your nerves. You will be aware of how to react when certain problems arise.

  1. Expect the unexpected:

I know you expect your baby to poop and pee during the flight and you will come prepared with wipes and diapers. Just make sure that you come prepared with extra diapers that you would normally use in that space of time. Trust me, when you are traveling for some reason children seems to wet and soil themselves more than normal. You do not want to find yourself with your last diaper in your hand hoping that your little one has no more surprises for you.

You never know how a child is going to react to a flight. The altitude, crowds of people, sound of the engine, being restricted to one area may affect them more than you anticipated. Make sure you have some sort of medicine in case your child should need it.

  1. Travel comfy:

Even if you are a super trendy mommy I would recommend you travel in the most comfortable clothes you have. Even clothes you don’t care if they get spit up on, pooped on and spilled on.

Dress your child in clothes that are easy to remove and are comfortable and warm.

Make sure you bring your infant carrier with you on the plane. I find the best time to strap a baby on is as you are boarding the flight and having to give up your stroller. The carrier will also be a life saver when you are walking around the aisles with you child. Your arms will need a break and it helps if you can strap your little one to your chest as you move about the cabin. If you have an infant the closeness will help comfort them. If you have a toddler being able to look around will satisfy their curiosity.

  1. Make good use of your time:

Don’t worry too much about staying in your seat while everyone else is boarding. If you can go to the back of the plane and let your child look around at all there is to see. There will be enough times when you are restricted to your seat. Don’t be too eager to sit down.

Before you take off make sure your child doesn’t need a change of diaper. You don’t want a wet and uncomfortable baby while you are taking off.

  1. Pack wisely:

Like I mentioned before it is better to over pack diapers than to run out. Another important thing to bring is extra clothes. I normally always have a spare outfit in my diaper bag but on a flight I recommend having two outfits.

Here are a few items that I found really helped out:

  • Travel pillow (you can place this under your arm to help you support your child)
  • Breastfeeding cover (not only is this essential if you are nursing but even if you don’t it will help shield your infant from the airplane lights which tend to stay on at all times, unless it’s an evening flight)
  • Plastic bag to dispose of dirty diapers, wipes or used up food pouches. You don’t want to have to get up every time you have to throw something away.
  • Soft, thick and warm blanket. They tend to blast the A/C on planes and the last thing you want is a cold baby. Kids tend to sleep better and be comforted if they are in a warm and cozy environment. The best way to do this is to wrap them up in the blanket while you hold them. More times than not they will fall asleep right in your arms.
  • Bring enough food and snacks for your child. It’s better to have more and not need it. Food pouches are excellent for flights. Any type of finger food that your child can be distracted with is also a must have. If there is one food that your child loves make sure you bring it and save it in case of a breakdown.
  • Bag of fun: buy a new toy for the special occasion. Something that will keep you child engaged for as long as possible. I recommend taking some of their normal toys too and packing them away a week before the trip so that it’s a special treat when you pull them out of the bag.
  • iPad’s are your friends. Don’t for a second think you are a bad parent if you bring an iPad as a source of entertainment. Even for a baby watching a video will be a great distraction. They may not be engaged for very long but every second counts when you are up in the air.
  • Don’t forget to sing to your child and try and have some fun with them.
  1. Set up your area:

It is policy that you have to have all bags stowed away under the seat in front of you or in the cabinet space above. You should, however, make sure you have everything you might need during takeoff and landing within your reach. Have the wipes, diapers and pacifier in the pocket in front of you. Have the blanket on your lap and a toy handy. If things go chaotic quickly you won’t lose anytime trying to find the essentials.

  1. Feed a child during takeoff and landing. It helps so their ears don’t pop.
  2. If you are traveling with your hubby then send him on the plane first to set up your area and pack away your bags. While you stay out by the gate as long as possible. If you have a toddler, let them run around as much as they want during this time.

 

Don’t let yourself be judged. Of course if your kid is the one crying and kicking up a real fuss you should give an apologetic look or say you are sorry but don’t for a second let it get to you. If people want to judge and be mean ignore them. Remember that your child takes queues from you. If mommy is stressed and anxious your child will probably pick up on that and react to it. Try and stay calm and be forgiving of yourself. You are doing a much better job than you give yourself credit for. If you ever feel overwhelmed by the experience don’t forget that the airplane toilets are great for locking yourself away and having a good cry!

 

Bon voyage!

Underneath it all….I hate being pregnant!

pregnant

Don’t get me wrong, I love my daughter. When she smiles at me my heart melts. Everything I have gotten to experience with her is worth more than any plans I could have had for myself in my early twenties. Sure, I was the only person in my circle of friends to have a kid and when I met mommies I tended to be the youngest by almost ten years but somehow she makes it all worthwhile. The way I felt when I found out I was pregnant and the months of my pregnancy that followed are hard to put into words these days. So I thought that sharing a journal entry that I wrote from the 20th February 2008 when I was about four months pregnant was the best way to share what I went through. I want to be honest and transparent in all of my blog entries. Sometimes they will be funny and other times they will be painfully honest. So here it goes……

“I can’t explain the envy, sadness and the sense of being overwhelmed by everything that is going on in my life. One day I was trying to get to know myself. To figure out what dreams I had, what goals I wanted to set for myself, to discover what I enjoyed doing, what kind of life I wanted to make for myself! One test, one day changed that all.

I feel like I have to apologize for how sad I’m feeling. When people ask and say that I must be so happy that I’m expecting a baby, the normal answer should be “yes, I’m the happiest I’ve ever been!” But I can’t say that, it wouldn’t be the truth about how my heart and mind are feeling about it.

I’m hoping this feeling of being overwhelmed by all the rapid changes will soon pass. That I will begin to be happy with my pregnancy, to be content with what life I have now. But that’s all that it is- hope! I can’t actually make myself feel different. It would be fake, I would be fooling those around me and myself!

So many changes, the obvious changes for those around me are of course the physical ones. The fact that the money we need to be saving for the baby may need to be spent on clothes that fit me. The dreaded feeling of standing in front of my wardrobe and realizing that none of my nice clothes fit me. That my maternity bra’s are so tight that they leave bruises on my breasts. Yes, this has been and is hard to deal with but its not the toughest aspect of it all!

What I find hardest to deal with is my mind. The thoughts of sadness, frustration and jealousy that course through me: WHAT ABOUT MY DREAMS? MY SELFISH DESIRES? MY NEEDS AND MY PLANS? I can’t reconcile these with what I expect is to come. Perhaps I have a misguided conception of motherhood, that once you are a mother you no longer have time for yourself!

As it was, I was only just discovering what I enjoyed doing with my free time. How will I now be able to do anything other than breastfeed, clean, cook, change the baby, play with the baby, etc.? I repeat, what about me? What about my selfish desires?

Will I perhaps lose myself forever, before I really ever got a chance to find myself? Will my life, the way it was 5 months ago, become a distant memory? A faded reality of what once was? Why do I feel so much pain, so much sorrow, confusion and disappointment?

Then I feel mad at myself. There are young lives prevented from living on. There are women, and families that are unable to have children. And here I am being sad about very superficial issues! When I should just get over it!

This is where the difficult part begins! Perhaps it’s natural to feel this way, but how would I know when no one else around me has ever been through this or has ever mentioned struggling in this way. I think it may also be because so much is happening in so little time: a baby, a husband, a job, no job!

The End”

Reading over these words I wrote almost 8 years ago now still makes me cry. They bring back very strong emotions and if I am honest I am not sure if I have worked through all of them. All I know is that if I could go back in time to my 24 year old self all I would say is you are allowed to feel the way you feel. Own your feelings, work through them and have faith that in the end it will all work out for the best. Because guess what? It really truly has!

That’s not saying that the past eight years haven’t brought many challenges but the one thing I can say is that I made a choice when I decided to keep my baby to fight for my future everyday. To not let myself get defeated by my circumstances but instead grow stronger and wiser. Even today I continue the search to find “myself” which at times gets lost in being a mother and a wife. I am no longer overwhelmed with the feeling of not knowing who I am. I have found that I will never complete the task of knowing myself because the person I am today is very different from who I was even a year ago. My pregnancy changed me but then again the loss of my dad was also a very big obstacle in discovering who I am. I know that life still has many more curve balls to throw at me but I am ready to play ball!