Lessons Learned in 2021

I did a year in review last year, so I figured I’d do one again this year but with a different format. You can see my 2020 in review post here. This year I want to focus on the things I’ve learned – but don’t worry, I’ll still include some fun photos from such a fun year (again – despite a pandemic).

1. I learned that my little family > all.

I feel like I knew this last year, but it became more apparent to me this year. This year, 2021, started out with my little bundle of joy turning ONE. What a special day – not what I had envisioned for her first birthday, but it was perfect given the circumstances (you can see my 1 year update for Maggie here and her birthday theme – DONUT grow up – here). Over 2020, we were so lucky to have both of us home as Maggie grew up for a large portion of the year. It was difficult, because my husband was laid off, but it was beautiful. When I returned to work at the end of last year, I returned to a new job with better pay, insurance and paid time off. I loved my job and the change wasn’t easy, but it was what was best for my family – I knew we would have new expenses (daycare) in 2021 and I wanted to have a bit more flexibility. My job is partially WFH so I am able to have Maggie home if she is sick with only a little bit of schedule maneuvering. I prioritized our family and I am so glad that I did.

However, I also realized this year – even though I really like my job – that although I am a very goal & career-driven person (I like to work hard and see results), that my family is what is most important to me. A job is a job. My previous job was like a family, and I loved it for that. But my new job is a bigger organization – and although I have met some absolutely wonderful coworkers and management, I know that in the end I am an employee and not for example, their mother. My kid(s) only get one mama – and I want to be there for them, doing that role to the best of my ability. I want to be a good wife and a good mom – I know it’s not possible to function at 100% all the time in either role, but I know to value those roles over my career when push comes to shove.

My career won’t be the one caring for me in old age (not literally anyways), nor is it the one to support me when going through hard times. That’s my family – and I am so thankful for them, especially this year. They are my #1.

2. Ultrasounds are not perfect.

This was truly a lesson I learned this year. I mean, I knew this, but when you are a healthcare provider in the role of a patient you become both hypervigilant to certain details, and almost ignorant to things you know very well. I think both are defence mechanisms in a way, because being a patient is hard. That’s something else I learned.

Anyway – I’ve told my story throughout my pregnancy journals on this one, but it really was something that has impacted most of my year. Being thrust through the maternity system at high speed with all sorts of ups and downs was hard. I was not okay at some points. I struggled emotionally. I carried a lot of stress – added onto by the stress of working in healthcare throughout a pandemic. Luckily, my husband is incredibly supportive and was there for me in so many different ways when I needed him, and I also had amazing family & friend (including e-friend) support.

Twitter & instagram community – you are truly wonderful and I am forever thankful for all the kind words, likes, follow ups and cheers when we got good news. It literally would brighten my days.

I am so thankful for ultrasounds, and I would of course make the informed choice to have them in any future pregnancies. But I would be lying if I said I didn’t have some trauma from them now – because they are not perfect. They are not 100%, either way. They can provide so many benefits and reassurance and I am so thankful that are situation ended the way it did – with everything being concluded as resolved and/or absent. I definitely still have fears – that they were still wrong. That someone lied to me. I’m not one to question the health system much, but this experience has really put me in the shoes of a patient and please know that I am taking forward everything I have learned with me in my care. I want to fix these issues – I know I can’t “fix” ultrasound accuracy, but the way we approach these topics can be better. Bedside manner can sometimes be better (from stories I have heard from others – luckily I had no issue with this). The support we offer and the way we provide information on different topics (such as some of the ones I’m covering in my Informed Choices series) can be improved to better support & inform people about their pregnancy and birth.

This experience has made me even more passionate about improving maternal care and filling gaps, so catch me working on that in 2022..

3. Pregnancy with a toddler is different.

I am one of those people who love being pregnant – and I still do, but if you’re a first time mom without little ones – thrive in that space. It’s different the times after in ways I can’t exactly put into words. One being – you’re more tired, for sure. You’re just doing more, whether you notice it or not.

Two – you don’t get all that time to sleep or feel nauseous and lay there until you feel better. You still have to parent. So those moments are harder. And you might find you lose your patience easier – be easy on yourself. Make sure you get your “you” time (or “you and baby within” time) if you can, even for a bit each day. That helps me immensely. Seek help if you need it.

And for me three is that it has been more for my body – I’m still working out like I did last pregnancy, but I am also lifting an almost 2 year old daily. My pelvis has had more wear and tear this time around. Physically, it has been a bit more challenging.

But I am weird, and despite this – I still love pregnancy (and P.S. – totally normal not to like or love it). I am holding onto my last 5 weeks as I enter the new year. I’ll be sad to not feel baby movement anymore, but of course I’ll be overjoyed to have my little guy here in person! I can’t wait to see what he looks like.

4. On that note, being a toddler mom in general is a bit challenging! But full of joy.

I know people complain about the newborn stage, and don’t get me wrong it comes with it’s own challenges – but so does toddlerhood.

Emotions are rampant. Communication is improving (baby sign is helpful to navigate through this a bit better) but not perfect so it can be challenging. They are super active and do not perceive risk well. They may start to become picky eaters (or it just worsens). You will probably feel all sorts of things like frustration, impatience, anger at times; but you’ll also love the heck out of them because they’re adorable and learning new things everyday. They’re also kind of gross, but it’s kind of funny so you get used to a lot of stuff you never thought you would.

It’s hard. It’s ups and downs and every day or every week can be different. You can’t really have too many expectations because then you toddler will know and say “I’m not doing that anymore”. Seriously. It feels like that some days. One day my kid will only eat a banana cut up, the next only out of the peel. It’s confusing and frustrating for us adults who are more “routine”.

But it’s still fun and it has so many highlights. I love that Maggie learns new things like every day. New words, new skills; she gains new understanding of the world around her. It’s truly beautiful. I love hearing her say “mama” when she needs something, though hearing it 100x per minute drives me a bit crazy – I still love it. I love when she is trying to understand how something works and has this look on her face. I love when she feels cuddly and loving and whispers in my ear or kisses my belly (her baby brother!). I can’t write anymore here because it’s making me cry – but it really is a turbulent time, toddlerhood. But it’s got it’s silver linings and they are so worth it.

5. I’ve learned that content creation (blog & IG) is hard work!

I never really thought about “content creators” before, and I am still not sure I consider myself one – but I guess I am to a certain degree. And let me tell you – it’s actually hard and I only have a small following!

Thinking of relatable things to post every few days – especially during a pandemic – can be hard. Doing brand sponsored content is hard. Trying to be yourself but still enticing to others is hard. Everyday is different and every post is so unpredictable, but I feel like I have a better understanding of my following now. I am still learning – so thank you to all who have followed along, who click my links, send me messages, likes or comments. It means a lot – and many of you have contributed to my ability to earn some extra income – but in many cases I am still doing a lot without pay. One of my “goals” for 2022 is to continue to work on my content and ask for more. I’ve gotten better, but like I said I am still learning.

I’ve always enjoyed taking photos and sharing my life – so it’s cool that I can do it as a bit of a side gig right now. I am always looking to improve though – but my main goal throughout is to stay true to myself. So I hope to continue to do that in 2022.

6. I’ve learned that COVID-19 sucks, and that we all need to work together and care about each other to get through it.

I had to include something pandemic related here – because once again, it’s been another year. I can’t believe it really, but I also can because I knew that our province was rushing through steps to reopen too quickly. We underestimated the virus and some overestimated the capacity of our government..

I hope 2022 is different. I hope we are better. I have been trying to do everything I can to keep my family safe this year (and last), and I will continue to do that next year. I miss my extended family. I miss our friends. I miss going to the movies or out for dinner without worry. Sure, we’ve done those things a handful of times but it’s surrounded by anxiety, and I don’t like it.

There are so many good people in this world doing their best to protect everyone. But sadly, I’ve learned and seen that there are some people who just don’t care. Not about anyone but themselves. Sometimes this changes when they become directly impacted, but sometimes it doesn’t. The fact of the matter is though that we all need to try our best to care – to mask, distance, get vaccinated if possible, follow public health guidance – in order to get through this. This is not said in judgment – it’s said out of worry. As a mom to an unvaccinated child. As a pregnant woman. As a granddaughter to a senior who is high risk. As someone who works with immune compromised patients. I just want to protect the most people and get through this, and I wish everyone else did too.

So I hope 2022 is different and that this variant maybe has awoken some people. I know some cannot be helped at this point, that’s ok. But hopefully the rest of us – and our governments – can figure this out. I’d love to be able to do an in-person mom group with my little boy, because I was robbed of that with my daughter. I’d really love to see 2023 allow my daughter to have an actual birthday party. I’d like to attend library groups with my kids, take them to the zoo or other events with other people or children without fear. I’d love to be able to have regular date nights with my husband when we get the chance. To celebrate our anniversary at a restaurant. I’d love to see our family regularly without having to test beforehand. Gosh, there are so many things I hope 2022 brings – and hopefully we can all work to achieve our 2022 goals together by following guidance & staying safe.

Thank you for reading if you did. Here is my quick 2021 recap reel. I can’t wait to see what 2022 brings (one thing we know is my son but the rest!) and best wishes to all of you.

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