How Opening Up About My Infertility Struggles Made The Emotional Weight Of It Easier To Carry

(Photo by APG Graphics from Pexels)

I have one amazing daughter who I would not trade for anything in the world. She is absolutely my favourite person on the entire planet and my life is so much better in every way because she’s in it. But I would be lying if I didn’t admit that the fact that I was never able to give her a sibling breaks my heart. And I’ve never been able to because I deal with unexplained secondary infertility, which in a nutshell means I was able to have one baby but for reasons unknown I have never been able to have another.

For a really long time I didn’t admit this to anyone. I think I was ashamed and embarrassed by it. I had assumed it would be easy to get pregnant again. I got pregnant accidentally – while on birth control even! – with my daughter after all, and during a very unhealthy period of my life. So why shouldn’t it be easy to do it again? If I’m being honest now, I was almost cocky about the whole thing. I wanted a big family, and I didn’t see any reason why it wouldn’t happen.

Then a couple years passed with no luck. And a couple more and now, 13 years later, I’m still a mother of only one.

I really shouldn’t say “only” as if it’s a bad thing. Like I said before, I would not trade this gangly, hilarious, incredible, artistic human for ANYTHING in the world. But I can’t deny that not having the big family I had hoped for breaks my heart. I can’t push from my memory the many times my daughter has asked for a sibling and I had no idea how to respond. I can’t stop looking at large families and not feeling bitter resentment. And for a very long time, I kept it all to myself.

One day I stopped keeping it bottled up inside, however. I don’t remember the exact circumstances of the first time – it wasn’t that significant of a life event to be stuck in my mind – but at some point I stopped smiling politely while awkwardly trying to change the subject when people asked when I was going to FINALLY have another baby and I just replied bluntly and honestly: “I would love to have more children, but I’ve been battling unexplained secondary infertility for years and haven’t been able to have another.”

Once I started being more open with my struggles – and started saying the name out loud – things shifted. I’m not going to say it made everything better. But it made it different. For one, people stopped asking me when I was going to have another – which is something people feel shockingly comfortable asking, even demanding sometimes, as if they have some sort of special access pass to the inner workings of my uterus simply because they…know me? I have legitimately had co-workers tell me “You have to have another! You can’t just have one! She needs a sibling!” without knowing just how much those words were killing me at that moment. So I decided to start telling them.

As you might imagine, some people didn’t like this very much because it makes them feel uncomfortable. But here’s the thing: I don’t care. I don’t go out of my way to bring it up but I don’t shy away from it either if it’s actually relevant to the conversation and I don’t care if I make someone uncomfortable by being honest about my circumstances when they start prying into the details of my life (a complaint I have actually dealt with a handful of times, and which makes me laugh because if you don’t want to risk hearing a potentially awkward response, mind your own damn business.)

One of the best parts about opening up about this part of my life, is that I didn’t feel as alone in it anymore. That’s one of the interesting things about infertility, it’s a LOT more common than we think, but we don’t talk about it as much as maybe we should. When I started talking openly about my infertility – even just letting it drop casually in relevant conversation – I noticed other women I know would start to approach me to share their experiences as well. In many cases, I was the ONLY PERSON (other than their partner and doctor) that they had ever told and as cheesey as it sounds, it feels nice to know I can help someone else feel like it’s something they don’t have to keep a secret. It’s nice to be someone they can confess their feelings too without worrying they’d be judged, because they know I understand. There’s something really meaningful about that for me.

Opening up about infertility struggles does in a lot of cases open you up to a whole host of other questions sometimes – Have you tried IVF? Have you considered adoption? – and a lot of weird advice and quasi-reassuring stories of people they know who went through the same thing and went on to have twins or more! (thanks…?) which can all be annoying in it’s own way, of course. I haven’t found the best way to deal with those yet.

If you figure it out, let me know.

I Used to Be Afraid Of My Instant Pot (Plus Some Of My Favourite Instant Pot Recipes!)

A handful of years ago, the man who was at the time my boyfriend took me to visit his sister around the holidays. While we were there, this woman who will some day (eventually) be my sister-in-law started singing the praises of the Instant Pot.

I didn’t really know what it was at the time but as she explained something about putting in frozen meat (or was it just raw?) and pushing a button and dinner being ready in about 10 minutes or so, I thought: “That’s not possible and you’re clearly lying to me right now.”

Ok I’m actually the one who is lying for the sake of comedy. My actual thoughts were something along the lines of “I have no idea how that is possible and I’m far too shy to ask you to elaborate. Sooooo…” *mental jazz hands* 

I was intrigued by this Wonder Contraption that I did not actually believe existed but then I kind of just forgot about it for awhile. I had no intentions of buying one, even though I am an absolute kitchen gadget whore. I was a little put off by the price at the time (spoiler alert: I no longer think that) and my at-the-time tiny kitchen just didn’t really need yet another thing in it.  

But then a year or so passed and my fiancé bought one (Or was he still my boyfriend at the time? I can’t really keep track) and I’m not going to lie: The thing terrified me. 

First of all, I found it ridiculously intimidating. Which buttons do I push and will one of them cause everything to blow up? Or would I somehow give everyone food poisoning maybe? I don’t know, but for whatever reason I decided it was far too complex to use. Plus there’s that whole REALLY SCARY, REALLY LOUD noise when you’re releasing the pressure manually that just made me convinced I was very likely going to die if I used this thing.

So it went into a cupboard. And it sat there for months. Untouched. 

Then one day I burnt stew and destroyed a regular pot and decided I should probably give the Instant Pot a try because I had no other options for cooking soup and not cooking soup was just not something I was willing to accept.

See, soups and stews are kind of my favourite things to make and so when the evening came when I wanted to make another batch of stew, and the burnt pot still had not been salvaged (I have since fixed it by the way, if you’re dying to know.) I decided I was going to try to use the Instant Pot.

And now I am completely hooked and I can’t stop using it. 

Half of our meals most weeks are cooked in the Instant Pot, and the only reason the other half aren’t is because I haven’t figured out how yet! (Can I do Instant Pot nachos?) Everything tastes better when cooked in that damn thing. 

I can’t stop looking up Instant Pot recipes and trying to make plans to streamline dinner making. And there are so many good ones.

Spending a Sunday pre-chopping and freezing ingredients so I can just dump them in the Instant Pot 30 minutes before dinner? Yes. Yes I will. That sounds fun. Sign me up.

Also, I very recently discovered you can make hard boiled eggs in this thing and now I am extra obsessed.

If you need an Instant Pot in your life (believe me, you do) you can purchase a 6 Quart one Here or an 8 Quart one Here. There are a lot of different models but this is the one we have and so it’s the one I would recommend because it’s the only one I’m familiar with.

Fun fact: I brought home a turkey not long ago, and my fiancé commented that it was too bad we couldn’t try cooking it in the Instant Pot so I’m clearly marrying the right man.  

And to leave you with a little dinner inspiration, here are links to some of my favourite Instant Pot recipes, including that hard boiled egg on that blew my mind:

Chicken Noodle Soup from Spend With Pennies

Beef Stew from the Salty Marshmallow

Chilli from Dinner At The Zoo

Jambalaya from Paint the Kitchen Red

Hard Boiled Eggs from Gimme Some Oven

Let me know if you have an Instant Pot and if you use it a lot. Drop me a link to some of your favourite recipes if you’ve got them available, or even just let me know what you like to cook in there the most often.

Stay safe everyone!

(Disclosure statement: links contained in this blog post may be affiliate links. This means that if you use these links to make a purchase, I may receive a small commission at no extra cost to you. You are in no way obligated to use these links, and your support is very much appreciated either way.)

Anxiety Makes Me Want To Home School

Photo by Suzy Hazelwood from Pexels

I have always had pretty bad anxiety, and it has often caused me numerous problems throughout life. But since becoming a mother my anxiety has gone through the roof.

This is not uncommon of course, and I am not unique or special in this. I know plenty of moms who experience the same thing. Even women who didn’t suffer from anxiety before having children sometimes become mothers and then suddenly the existence of this other person (or multiple other persons!) makes us aware of just How. Many. Scary. Things. are out there.

Many of us find ways to manage this, whatever that might look like. It might be medication, or various other coping mechanisms. But generally speaking, it doesn’t go away. Managed doesn’t mean Gone, and so for most of us the anxiety is something we just deal with, and which often affects many aspects of our daily lives and the choices we make.

My anxiety makes me want to home school.

To be completely clear, this is something I’ve always thought about ever since I first became a mother. Way before Covid. We’re talking before my daughter – who is now 13 – even started kindergarten, I wanted to home school.

There were so many reasons why I wanted to home school, the most obvious one of course being that the idea of sending my child off somewhere where I couldn’t be there to personally ensure her safety made me feel physically ill. Keeping her home with me? That sounded amazing. Entrusting complete strangers to protect the one thing that is most precious to me? No thank you.

But for as many reasons as I had for wanting to home school, I had just as many reasons not to. Ultimately, I did not end up home schooling, and now, even though my anxiety regarding the issue is still as bad as ever (maybe worse some days) I am thankful that I didn’t.

I know, I know, home school mamas will hate me for saying that because they will interpret this as me talking shit about something they’re passionate about. To be clear: I’m not! But people (PARENTS) tend to be sensitive when it comes to their choices so I know it will likely still offend someone. This is by no means meant to demean or insult home schooling families out there. I really believe we all just need to do our best to make the best possible choices for our kids based on all the variables in our own lives.

I don’t think there is anything wrong with home schooling. But I also don’t think it’s the right fit for every kid.

And more importantly, I think it’s essential that as a mother I go out of my way to make sure my daughter’s experiences in life aren’t limited by what is within my own comfort zone. I try so hard to not project my hang ups and issues onto her. She’ll develop her own, I’m sure. She doesn’t need to carry around mine as well.

Obviously, there are exceptions. There are still so many things I cannot bring myself to let her do because it terrifies me. But when it comes to school I try my best to just suck it up and send her on her way, then keep myself distracted enough throughout the day until she’s back home with me so I don’t absolutely lose my mind with fear.

The recent Covid-Schooling experience we all went through for most of 2020 (and which many parents are still going through if they are continuing to do school from home) really highlighted that when it comes to my kid, I made the right choice. Without the structure of traditional schooling, she was pretty lost. She was logging on to classroom Zoom calls that were optional just because she wanted to interact with her classmates and her teachers. I was getting emails from her teachers that she was behind on her school work, and motivating her to get it done was a nightmare. For a kid who hates school, she really seemed to miss being at school, despite her reluctance to go back when the new school year started.

So if you are a parent – at any stage of parenting – who struggles with the idea of sending your kids to school because of your anxiety, just know that you are not alone. I hope you are able to make the choice that feels the most right for your family, whatever that looks like.

We Didn’t Go School Supply Shopping This Year

My daughter went back to school – starting the 8th (!!!) grade – this week, and we did not buy school supplies this year.

Let me back up a little and give you a little backstory about why this is a big deal to me. When I was a kid, I hated school. I lived for the weekends, summer vacation, basically any break where I didn’t have to be at school. So I’m sure you can imagine the end of summer back to school dread I would go through every year. The only thing that made it even slightly bearable, possibly even a little exciting, was: Back to school shopping. Specifically, back to school SUPPLIES shopping.

See, I love stationary and office supplies so much that if someone gave me pens and highlighters as a gift, I would very likely be overjoyed. I swear my fiancé could take me to Staples and call it a date and I would be Perfectly Happy (in fact, he has, and it was amazing.) Just the idea of browsing for stationary makes me smile with joy.

So why didn’t we buy school supplies this year? For a few reasons actually. The main reason being that it didn’t seem practical to buy a whole bunch of brand new stuff only to have it end up sitting in a backpack unused if we experience another wave of Covid related shut downs and the kids start learning from home again, which I am anticipating happening even though people tell me I’m being paranoid. Maybe I am, maybe I’m not. Time will tell.

Another, much smaller reason is that we had so much perfectly good stuff left over from previous years that it felt wasteful to buy something new when we had the older stuff just sitting unused. Ideally we would have donated the left over stuff from previous years, but I know a lot of places stopped accepting donations and to be honest I have no idea which ones have opened back up again.

There were other reasons ranging from not being entirely sure what supplies were even required this year anyways, and not wanting to waste money on things that she didn’t actually need, but the end result is the same, we just didn’t go school supply shopping this year.

This isn’t to say that we won’t go school supply shopping at a later date, we just decided to hold off on doing it now and reevaluate after she has been back in school for awhile.

Do I regret this choice? A little bit. For one, with so much unknown going on in the world and surrounding back to school in general, hindsight has made me realize that back to school shopping might have been a fun thing to do to make it a little more exciting, and to make things seem normal. I did discuss the issue with my daughter and she agreed it made more sense to wait a little bit, so I’m not concerned that she might be secretly offended, but I do second-guess myself sometimes and I have definitely wondered if I made the right choice.

Also I just really love stationary so in a way, I robbed myself of a fun shopping trip. Who does that?

On the other hand, I am a little bit happy we chose to do it this way. For one, when we do end up going shopping, my daughter will have a better idea of what she actually needs. Also, we won’t be trying to find those things she needs surrounded by a bunch of other frantic back to school shoppers which will hopefully make the entire experience a little calmer than it might have been otherwise.

Ultimately, I feel like this was the best choice for us at this time. Which is really all I’m aiming for at this point anyways.

I Am a Master Grocery Shopper and I Would Like To Brag About It

You know those moments we have sometimes that make us pause and go, “Oh god, I’m an adult” ? Well I had one recently when I realized how proud I am of my grocery shopping skills.

Yep, you read that right. I’m great at grocery shopping and I’m really proud of it.

I have my grocery shopping down to a science. Over the last couple years I have discovered and implemented little tricks and tips that make the experience as efficient as possible and overall it has made grocery shopping a much more enjoyable experience for me. Fun fact: I actually hate grocery shopping. Or I did. Now it’s not quite as bad.

Now, just to be clear when I say I’m good at it I mean I’m efficient. I’m not claiming I’m fantastic at saving money or finding deals or things like that. Once upon a time I was really into couponing and trying to save as much as I could, and sometimes I really want to focus on getting better at that, but it’s not something I currently utilize or am very knowledgeable about. But my dislike for grocery shopping has somehow manifested as this intense desire to find ways to make it as efficient as possible so now every time I shop I do a few specific things that make the shopping trip go as smooth and as fast as possible. I can go from parking the car, to driving out of the parking lot with 2 weeks worth of groceries in under 30 minutes.

Also, some of these tips might be no brainers for a lot of people, but they’re kinda new to me and I’m excited about them. So let me have this moment. Keep on reading for the things I do that made me stop hating grocery shopping (as much.)

Tip # 1 – Keep a Family List

That is, a written list that is accessible to all family members, ideally somewhere in the kitchen. We have a white board on the fridge for example. The 2 main purposes for this are so that anyone in the family can add things as they use the last of something or think of something they might want. I can’t tell you how many times before we started doing, where I would grocery shop only to have my kid say “Oh yeah we’re out of milk” after I already got home. The worst.

Added bonus, if you’re a plan ahead kind of person, you can use the board (if you go that route) to write down the planned menu for the week to avoid the constant cries of “What’s for dinner?”

Tip # 2 – Make a List and ORGANIZE THAT LIST

One of the biggest grocery shopping mistakes you can make – other than shopping on an empty stomach – is to shop without a list. It’s a surefire way to forget to grab things you really needed, or to end up with a bunch of random ingredients that don’t exactly translate to meals easily. I make my grocery lists in stages; First I’ll come up with some specific meals I hope to make over the next week or 2 and add all the ingredients that we don’t already have, then I’ll add all the things that were written on the Family List I described above, while I’m doing that I’ll check the fridge/freezer/cupboards for any additional things that I notice are getting low. Don’t forget the bathroom for things like shampoo and toothpaste. You can use a paper list if that works for you, like this really cool one that’s already organized by category, or use the notes feature on your phone. But personally I like using the app Listonic. It’s a free app but you can also pay to get rid of ads (possibly to unlock other features, to be honest I don’t really know because I just use the free version) and the main reason I like it is because I can categorize my items and check things off as I add them to the cart.

I also like to name my lists really stupid things because I think that’s hilarious.

I’ve tried out a bunch of different apps for making grocery lists but so far this one is my favourite.

You can organize your list however you want, personally I like to organize mine by the sections of the store because that’s how I shop and I find I’m less likely to miss something and have to backtrack if I’ve organized my list that way. I always shop in this order: toiletries, fruits & veggies, pre-packaged middle aisles, bread/bakery section, dairy, meats, frozen section. So I like to organize my grocery list in that order. That’s what works for me. If you’re using an app it may take a little experimenting to set your lists up in a way you can organize like this.

Tip # 3 – Bring Your Own Containers

Not all grocery carts are the same size, so you may need to search a little to make sure the containers you purchase will work for the carts you use the most. I personally shop with 2 Rubbermaid Roughneck totes because they (along with 2 collapsible square bags I bought from the grocery store, but which are almost exactly like these ones) fit perfectly in the carts at the store I shop at, and because we had an abundance of them left over from our move. These can be a little on the pricey side but they have proven to be exceedingly valuable in so many ways and have well surpassed their initial cost in general usefulness. Highly recommend. I also really like the Rubbermaid Brute as well. But for another much cheaper option, something like these CleverMade Collapsible Baskets would work great also, and the collapsible feature is pretty awesome if you’re low on storage space.

When I begin my grocery shopping, I put the totes in the cart right away and then just add my groceries straight into them as I shop. Then later when it’s time to check out, it’s as easy as unloading the groceries so they can be scanned, then putting them right back into the containers. I also save plastic bags from previous shopping trips and bring them along for those just in case times.

I shop exclusively at stores where you have to bag your own groceries and I used to hate it but since I’ve started shopping this way, I find I do it so much faster that now I can’t stand having someone else do it.

Obviously, be aware of the weight you’re putting into the containers. You don’t want it to be heavier than you can lift.

One of the best things about using something like this for shopping, is that nothing spills inside your car. Rotten fruit that spilled out of a bag and rolled under a seat where you couldn’t see it, anyone?

Tip # 4 – Be Mindful Of How You UNLOAD Your Cart At The Till

It’s so much easier to put your groceries away when you get home if you’ve filled the containers properly in the first place. Like items should go together (so put all the canned stuff together, put the dairy items together, etc,) and heavier items should go through first so they can go on the bottom when you’re reloading your items. It’s much easier to toss a loaf of bread or a bag of chips on top of an already packed container than to find room for that pack of steaks, for example. I also think items that could potentially leak should be near the bottom, and meat should be in it’s own container with frozen items on top, but that’s just me. You do you, these are just tips. There are no rules in grocery shopping.

Tip # 5 – Clean Out Your Fridge Before You Shop

This isn’t something I do often, but it makes a big difference when I do. It’s useful for multiple reasons;

1) Sometimes I discover items that someone else in the family thought we were out of, but really it had just been put away wrong (yay I don’t have to buy ketchup after all!)

2) Sometimes I’ll find something is expired and needs to be replaced so I don’t accidentally poison my family (pretty important obviously)

3) It clears up some space for new groceries to be put away (especially helpful if you agree that putting away groceries is the WORST PART)

and 4) It can give some insight into things you might be buying that are actually a waste of money. Keep having to throw out tons of yogurt? Maybe buy less yogurt. Always notice there’s tons of leftovers that end up getting thrown out when you make chili? Maybe take a break from making chili for awhile. I found myself repeatedly throwing out cauliflower that I kept buying because I was convinced I was going to make cauliflower cheese buns. I did not make cauliflower cheese buns. So I stopped buying cauliflower.

Other things you can do that help make things go faster include making sure you shop at the optimal time when the store is less busy than usual. Typically this seems to be early in the morning or later at night. This isn’t always possible if you work of course and have to plan your shopping around your working hours. Leaving the kids at home so you can shop alone with no distractions can also make a big difference. Of course this isn’t always a possibility so coming up with creative ways to get the kids to help if you have to bring them along can make the trip go smoother. And of course, the golden rule of grocery shopping (which I already touched on above) Never shop on an empty stomach. You’re way more likely to fill your cart with junk you don’t need if you’re hungry while you shop not to mention you’re probably going to be a lot more irritable. Eat a snack. You’ll thank yourself for it.

Leave me a comment below and let me know you’re grocery shopping tips and tricks. Do you enjoy grocery shopping or do you hate it like me?

(Disclosure statement: links in this blog post may be affiliate links. That means if you use them to make a purchase, I will earn a small commission. It is completely optional and at no extra cost to you, but it does help out with this blog.)

I’m Not Enough Of A Mom To Have A Mom Blog

Or at least that’s what I let myself believe for longer than I care to admit.

Ok, it’s 13 years. My daughter was born 13 years ago and way back then I wanted to start a mom blog but I kept talking myself out of it.

First she was too young, I hadn’t been a mom long enough. Then as she got older and secondary infertility stole the chance to give her a sibling, I convinced myself that being a mom to just one took me out of the running to be a mom blogger. I let myself fall for the idea that I’m less of a mom than those I know who have 2 or more kids. It was ridiculous. It still is. But I let myself believe it for way too long.

In all that time that I was convincing myself that I wasn’t “enough” of a mom to have a mom blog I was busy raising this really awesome person, who like I said is now 13, and recently I decided I was done with not doing this thing that I’ve wanted to do for so long.

So here is it. This is my mom blog.

Obviously it’s brand new and nowhere near what I hope it will eventually become but I wanted a place of my own where I can talk about parenting, being a mom, raising a teenager, or any other family related things that might pop up in my mind as time goes on.

Hopefully if you’re reading this, you will join me as I start on this new blogging adventure.