Behind The Scenes Of Starting A Family – Chapter 1: The Decision
For those of you who don’t know me, here is a little introduction before we get into it. My name is Stephanie de Montigny, I am happily married to my husband Alex, and love living in the beautiful city of Ottawa (though my heart will always belong to small towns). We are two weird individuals who fell madly in love, and work hard to keep it that way. (Well, it’s been pretty easy so far, but I know things are about to get tough now that we’ve decided to be starting a family–or so the world seems to tell us!) I have a huge sense of humour, but it’s quite deadpan, so if you blink you might miss the joke. I love food, all things vintage, and I am a rare breed of a math-loving creative brain–it’s what makes me a great businesswoman, because I love the behind the scenes of being a business owner, but also love the creative aspect of making my art visions come to life through my photography. That’s all you really need to know for now, because you’ll learn the rest along the way. Cheers!
Fear Or Excitement, Which Is It?
Behind the smiles and excitement of starting a family, you will find fear and doubt. And that’s okay–it’s completely normal to be super excited one moment, and then the next to worry you won’t be a good parent, or to think you don’t have enough money to raise children, but then be overcome with love for this hypothetical unexciting thing you’re about to create. When you really think about it, there isn’t much difference in the reaction your body produces to fear or excitement. When you are strapped in and your roller coaster car is slowly climbing to the top of that first drop, your heart is pounding, you’re running your life through your head, you’re thinking of all the what-ifs, and you are actually looking forward to feeling yourself plummet to the ground at high speed–over and over again. Yep, that’s pretty much the feeling you get when you decide to have a baby. And you ride that coaster track over and over, feeling the rush and the fear, but imagine yourself in the dark so you never see it coming. But it’s all worth it.
I wish I could say there is a trick to get over it, or to make the mixed emotions regulate, but there isn’t–that’s just how it is. That’s what it’s like being a parent, you will always hover somewhere in between the emotions of blissful love and unfiltered fear–usually for their safety and your sanity, but they do happen less often as your child grows into adulthood, or so my parents tell me! Bring it on!
Did You Know That!?
But enough about that, because it’s only one small piece of the process. There are many things about starting a family that they don’t tell you until you ask, but that would be really good to know long before that so you are prepared. Like folic acid. Did you know you are supposed to be taking them daily for at least 12 weeks before trying to conceive? I didn’t, until my doctor told me–and my job literally falls smack in the middle of the prenatal & postnatal realm–so I cannot even imagine if I weren’t constantly immersed in these things (and sharing info with my husband), of all the unknowns I would be facing. Like the big no-no to feed your baby water. Or that you need to change baby’s diaper every few hours even if they haven’t soiled it. And the ever-changing rules, like that now babies are supposed to sleep on their backs only. Who even decides all of these things!? Anyways, I’ve got lots of reading ahead of me. <– I will be sure to share my findings!
Babies Need A Lot Of Stuff!
Then there is the stuff you need. There are the obvious things like a crib and baby clothes, but then there are a sea of things that the world is telling you that you need (holy crap, having a baby is expensive!), and then there are the things you don’t think about until you need it because apparently nobody talks about it. One of the not-so-obvious things we discovered we would need by the time baby arrives is a new set of laundry machines. Ours are over a decade old, so they have really lost their efficiency, and I refuse to have to dry the same damn load of laundry FOUR times before they come out dry. No thanks! Another rather important thing you don’t realize until you make “the baby list” is whether you need a car seat AND a stroller, or if you invest in one that does both functions (clips into a base in the car, and then into a base on the stroller). And even if we were planning on babywearing, we would still need a stroller, right? But that’s a whole other beast in itself to learn to wrap or wear or whatever, so we will definitely be investing in someone teaching us properly–another expense that sneaks up, educational classes. Ottawa has some free ones, but having a smaller class for more 1-on-1 help and access afterwards to the instructor for asking follow up questions is absolutely worth the few extra dollars. I will have to look into finding some local ones <– and I will let you know!
Maternity & Parental Leave?
Then there is the money questions, in addition to all of the baby stuff. In Ontario, we are lucky to be able to take maternity leave and parental leave, but nobody tells you anything about it other than that you should take it. Thanks… Why isn’t there a free class on that! There is already so much stress being put on soon-to-be-parents, to not even know how to go about asking for the money they are entitled to, or even how much that is, and if they even qualify, it’s frustrating. Especially when one of you is self-employed, how does that even work!? So. Many. Questions. (And I’m not even pregnant yet!)
UPDATE: Found this somewhat useful page on the government EI website, but would still appreciate a Parental Leave 101 course if anyone is reading this…
Let’s Do It!
Since I know there are plenty of others out there in the same boat as I am, so I figured I would share my journey with you, the behind the scenes of starting a family. Okay no, not thaaaaat behind the scenes, but everything else. The good, the bad, the pretty, the ugly. All in the name of education, of course. And well, it is ME we’re talking about, so you’ll get to enjoy some humour too.
UPDATE: There is a special event at the end of this summer that will be covering all the basics of pregnancy, birth and being a new parent, and is open to anyone trying to start their family, expecting parents, or recently new parents. Baby is Coming. Now What? is a one-day event that has everything you need in one convenient spot: expert speakers, local baby shops/products, prenatal services, and you can even take a tour of the local Birth Centre.
Ready for the wild ride? Here’s to embarking on the roller coaster of parenthood! Read on to Chapter 2.