This interview is with my ex coworker turned good friend, Grace. I met Grace when she was employed as a Child Development Facilitator (CDF) in my classroom. She was an absolute blessing to have in my class. She was a diligent worker who never stopped. She was a small force, getting stuff done with a speed and efficiency like no other. Beyond her unmatched work ethic, she drew the children in with her spirit and personality. She is funny, witty, and I am forever grateful to call her my friend.
Since the moment I knew Grace was trying to conceive I told her that it would happen for her some way, some how. She was meant to be a mother. Her journey to motherhood is one wrought with highs and lows, filled with emotion that only individuals who have suffered through infertility will know. She was blessed with a child of her own just 6 months ago, after a long process and multiple IVF procedures.
I thought her story was one worth sharing. A true lesson in the importance of persistence and fighting for what you want. Infertility can be a taboo topic but the more we share the more we can make others feel like they aren’t alone.
Tell me a quote that speaks to your heart.
Be patient. Good things take time. - Unknown
How many kids do you have?
What is your job?
I am an Enrichment Coach with an organization called Kin-Dir. It is my responsibility to visit different preschools and daycares all over Calgary and assist children with special needs by implementing strategies and by cultivating a set of developmentally appropriate techniques that the teachers and caregivers can then use in a practical, positive way.
I am originally from the Philippines where I was a certified teacher. When I came here in 2007, I knew I would be leaving behind my family and my career. I wanted a better life for myself and I knew that I needed this change in order to do that. I wanted to come to Canada because I saw fliers of the mountains and I thought Canada was friendly and peaceful; the beauty of the scenery drew me here. At first, I didn’t plan to become a citizen but when I met my husband everything changed. I got my citizenship in 2017 and although I was already here, living this life, I felt a monumental shift. I don’t feel like I am just a visitor anymore. I feel like this is my home and I understand why Canada has the reputation it does. I am proud to be here and to raise my son here.
How old are your children and give me a brief description of who they are and what their personalities are like.
I have one son named Stephen. He was born on September 20th, 2018 so he is only 6 months and we are still learning about who he is. Right now though, he is very funny, just like his mom. He is sweet, busy, and demanding. He notices everything and is following everything I do. He loves books and songs. It scares me that he will be a combination of me and my husband, Scott. No matter how the genes divide, he is bound to have something to say!
What are you passionate about?
My passion has always been working with children. Working with kids is such a profound responsibility that so often gets overlooked. Every day, I learn something new when I am at work. Just watching how children problem solve has given me insight into the fact that. as adults, we tend to over-complicate things. Each child is unique and, as such, every time I teach them something new, they too are teaching me a new strategy or approach to add to my arsenal. I have the privilege of watching their personalities grow and develop and to be a part of their success is extremely rewarding.
I have been surrounded by kids all of my life in different jobs, careers, and even within my own family. However, being a mom is completely different. Although I have worked with children in the past I have never been a mom so I am learning on the job. I know that I am teaching him but I am learning too. I am starting to understand his needs, his schedule, my needs, finding balance, and generally how to be the best mom I can for Stephen. I feel like I don’t want to miss a minute of what Stephen is doing - almost to the point of it being obsessive for me! I realize how protective I am and I am sometimes overwhelmed by the feeling of not being able to trust other people. So, I know that there are things that I can improve too!
What is your biggest fear as a mom?
Stephen was not conceived naturally. We tried to conceive the old fashioned way for over 5 years. In spite of the fact that we were older parents, we never thought that our conception journey would ultimately be in the hands of science; we had faith that it would happen for us. Every negative pregnancy test was a reminder that time was passing. Each month brought different feelings of stress and a rollercoaster of emotions. We questioned what we could or could not be doing and how it could be impacting our ability to get pregnant. It became too much. Too frustrating. Too overwhelming. It was such a horrible low. It was so easy to forget that I was part of a partnership. I was losing control and started putting conceiving a child as a first priority before my relationship. I had my husband and if we never had a baby he was always enough. I lost sight of this fact. I didn’t want to lose my marriage so finding the balance was necessary. It was comforting to know that we were in this together and that we both wanted a child equally. Eventually, we decided that going through in vitro fertilization (IVF) was what we wanted. Our first transfer was unsuccessful and we were devastated. The financial, physical, and emotional investment we made seemed too much to bear. We took a break and decided to give ourselves time to heal before trying again, when the time was right. And, on our second transfer, we got pregnant.
All this to say that my biggest fear is the safety of my child. I believe that our difficulties conceiving and the investments we had to make in order to have Stephen have made me fearful to do something wrong. He may end up being our only child, which makes me very aware of all of the risks and dangers that I, being his mom, feel responsible for. I can be overprotective and over worried. I can overthink minor details. I fear that I will think that I am doing something right but in actuality, I am not. I think the fact that I now have everything I wanted and I could lose it all causes my anxiety and overprotective tendencies. Sometimes you have to trust your instinct and it’s been hard for me to just believe that what I think is right, just is. That’s one of the hardest things about motherhood, you don’t have someone there telling you if what you are doing is good or if there is something else you could be doing to improve a certain situation. In other jobs, you have coworkers, colleagues, or managers giving you feedback and advice. I am afraid that I am too controlling and I need to make sure that I find a balance between keeping him safe and giving him the space to develop independently. I don’t want to be controlling and I need to find that balance for both of us to be successful
What is your greatest success as a mom?
I made it to 6 months and counting! Overcoming fears has been really challenging. For me, enjoying him and relaxing into my role as a mother has been a big success. I have always been someone who has worked - I like to get things done, make an impact, and be an integral part of whatever job I do. That’s not to say that I’m not doing all of these things as a mom. But I am also taking some time to really live in the moments of Stephen’s childhood. This could be my one and only opportunity to experience parenting so I am trying to appreciate every little moment and make memories to last a lifetime.
Tell me about your most memorable mom fail.
Oh no, this was horrible. I was clipping his nails. Their nails grow so fast and their hands are so tiny. I was already nervous to begin with and I ended up clipping his skin. He instantly started screaming. Then his screaming made me emotional and I was crying too. I was so emotional even though I knew he would be okay. Regardless, you never want to be the one who causes your child pain. This was a great lesson for me in motherhood; that sometimes even your best intentions fall short but you apologize and get back up to face another day… where you will likely make more mistakes.
Now tell me about your most memorable mom win.
Stephen is only 6 months so I’m hopeful that I have lots of mom wins coming in the future. So far though, I think getting him into a routine has been the best thing. Our days have some structure now so I can be more creative with how we fill them. I think getting him into a routine has been the best thing. He is finally sleeping on a solid schedule. I still cave in and sleep with him every day around 4am. I feel like it’s a bad habit but we both love it so how can it really be?
What was labour and delivery like for you?
I had Stephen at 39 weeks via planned cesarean section. Unfortunately, he was consistently breech so I had no other option. All I wanted was for him to arrive safely without further complication, so I listened to the advice of my doctors and tried to let go of any negative feelings I had towards having a C-section. Although, it didn’t come as a surprise that I would have a C-section. Nothing about our conception story went how we planned so I figured that this was just another hurdle we would have to overcome to get to the final goal.
I was awake and alert through the entire birth process, only having an epidural to numb my lower body. We were lucky to have such an amazing team that made the process smooth, comfortable, and they made sure to keep me informed on what was going on. My husband was in the room and got to cut the cord. That moment was so surreal for me. We were finally with this child that we had been praying and hoping would come to us for over 5 years. I had dreamed of this moment for so long and it was perfect; he was real, crying aloud, and in my arms. Sometimes, I still can’t believe it’s real.
What has been your favourite stage/age of parenting thus far?
It’s too early to say what exactly my favourite stage will be. The newborn stage was not my favourite. I remember thinking he was so fragile. I was worried that every move I was making would cause him discomfort. I was constantly worried if he was breathing. I would check on him all of the time. Now, he is so much stronger. I feel much more comfortable with him - like he can handle the chaos of our life - but I am savouring everything he is now because I know this too will pass by in the blink of an eye.
What do you believe is the biggest misconception about motherhood?
The biggest misconception I had was that there is a cookie cutter way to raise children. That what works for other moms must also work for me. Prior to having kids, I had this idea of what motherhood would be like. I had misconceptions on how easy it would be to implement certain strategies not taking into consideration the fact that my child is unique. I never planned to co-sleep or to go with the flow but this is what has worked for Stephen so I am realizing that motherhood is about finding ways to fit a new mould instead of forcing yourself into a box that you will never fit in. I used to judge other moms who didn’t do things the way I thought would work best but I now know that just because it works for one mom doesn’t mean it will work for another!
As long as your goal is for your child to thrive then you are probably making the right choices. There is no wrong way. Every parent has to do what they feel is right. It is so easy to judge others but until you are in it there is no way of knowing.
If you could change one thing about the way you parent what would it be?
I think I am showing signs and symptoms of being a helicopter mom. You know - the mom who is always hovering, over protective, and excessively concerned with my child at all times. I truly think this stems from our infertility journey and the hardships we faced throughout our long conception process. I am working on being able to trust others, especially my husband. I am striving to be better at letting go and being better about remembering that just because others don’t do things how I would, doesn’t mean that Stephen is any worse off. Everyone who cares for my son loves him and wants what’s best for him and I am trying to keep that in mind when I really want to just tell them what to do and how to do it.
What would you consider to be your approach to parenting?
Right now, it looks mommy lead. Because I am on maternity leave, I am with him almost 24/7. I am listening to my instincts and using my best judgements, leaning into what I know from my past experience. To date, I am going with the flow and showing a very gentle approach to mothering. Prior to kids, I would never have guessed that this is how I would parent. In the future, I hope that my child is thankful that we parented the way we have.
Share with me your greatest piece of advice that you would give to new moms.
My biggest advice is to follow your heart. Do what you feel is right for you. You can listen to every instruction, follow every expert, and read every book but if something you are doing doesn’t sit well in your heart then stop. Be yours and your child’s biggest advocate by listening to your intuition. Something inside is speaking to you for a reason - listen to it!