February 21, 2013

Happy Anniversary!

Four years ago, on February 22nd, we headed off to Tofino, BC to get married...

We found the perfect place at the Long Beach Lodge Resort and within three weeks of finding it (we weren't looking/planning at all...just stumbled upon the perfect place through a friend), headed there to get married/eloped. We told family and friends of our plans beforehand, so it wasn't an "official" run-off-and-get-married-without-telling-a-soul-elopement ;)
The wedding/ceremony was just the two of us, and was perfect for us. We loved every minute of those very special few days. Our only regret? Not staying longer!

We wore what we wanted, took our own photos, got up before dawn to explore the beaches with our camera, ate ridiculously good food, slept in, and kept our own schedule...perfect for us.
We stayed in our own two storey! private wooden cabin with a fireplace and jacuzzi tub in the backyard surrounded by forest....perfect for us.
We sent out a little letter and a photo of us on our special day after we got back to family and friends...perfect for us.

Was or are you hoping/planning your special day to be perfect for you?

February 20, 2013

My experience with postpartum depression

Hmmmm...just writing that title was scary. So here goes nothing.
I don't know really where to start exactly. I just really felt it was important to be honest about this scary & sad subject.
We love looking at photos from those first few months when we had Felix....how tiny he was (how sleepy!) etc... Felix has actually been LOVING watching videos of himself and photos flash by the computer screen, he could literally sit still for an hour and watch himself :)
Looking back at these photos, you would never know that we were going through the hardest time (thus far) for us. The photos look idyllic...warm, vibrant, colourful, happy, smiling, new family.
The detachment I felt started for me instantly really. I gave birth on a Friday afternoon and we left the hospital on the Monday afternoon. I didn't change a diaper or his clothes during those days, I was scared to touch him, that I would hurt him. I had no idea what I was doing.
I think, looking back, I was so overwhelmed with everything. I definitely take longer than most people to absorb new things. I need to do it on my own. Take my time with it. Really think it out. You don't get to do that in this situation ;) I was handed this tiny human and was told I had a son. It didn't click in my brain.
I had already felt like the world's worst mother during my pregnancy. Everyone always says that women fall in love and feel like mothers as soon as they see the positive pregnancy test, and men follow suit once the baby is handed to them. I never felt that during my pregnancy. I loved being pregnant etc... but I could not connect that way. It made me feel terrible. We had tried so hard to get pregnant for two years, and against odds we finally got pregnant. This little baby was so wanted, what was wrong with me? So I thought it would happen at birth. Once I saw this beautiful (ok, wrinkly and squished) little baby, I would instantly connect. I didn't. I thought it was due to just having pushed a baby out of my body, lack of sleep, lack of food, etc....everything would be normal once we got home from the hospital. Funny enough, while we were at the hospital a lady came around with pamphlets regarding postpartum depression and signs to look out for, numbers to call etc... We assured her we knew all about it...Justin has degrees in psychology and counseling...we told her not to worry, that we were very in tune with ourselves and aware of these things. Silly know-it-all's we were ;)
I think because we only ever hear about the extreme cases of postpartum depression....the ones that end in violence...there is such a horrible stigma attached to it. You instantly feel ashamed and guilty. I was too afraid to tell anyone because in my warped head I was afraid that I would be pumped full of pills and that Felix would be taken away from me. I realize that some cases, where depression is severe, mother's need medicine to help them cope and the child(ren) need to be safe. But I think the less severe cases need to be talked about too. I had the less severe case of postpartum depression, which by no means, made it seem "easy". Less severe in my eyes, means that I never wanted to harm my child or myself. I did want to throw the baby monitor against the wall countless times (but didn't....it was damn expensive).
Things only got harder when we got home. Not a day went by in the first four months that I did not cry (several times). Justin was my rock (still is). I would not have survived without him by my side. He took over feedings, diaper changes, got up in the middle of the night several times.....every night. Every. Single. Night. That man got up for feedings and diaper changes. I would get panic attacks and could not sleep at night because I was constantly waiting for Felix to wake up...I was always watching that stupid monitor. Justin took over nights so I could try to sleep.
We took a huge financial fall during that first year. Justin stayed home a lot from work because of everything that was going on with me. I would just sit and cry. I felt dead inside...as dramatic as that sounds. All I felt was sadness and anger. I just remember getting angry at the drop of a hat. It was so instant. It was so out of character. About a month in, we knew what it was. I think it helped Justin somewhat to know that it wasn't him. That he wasn't doing anything to make me this sad and angry. It wasn't Felix either. We dealt with it the best we knew how. I started taking some prenatal vitamins again along with some fish oil (and something else I can't remember), to get my hormones to even out again. We had read that a lot of women "crash" after birth, so many vitamins and hormones are entering the body while pregnant and then after birth it gets nothing anymore, which can be very hard on it. Maybe it was all in my head, but this helped a bit. I also stopped breastfeeding all together at three months. I was pumping a lot at that point and not breastfeeding him much at all anymore, we also had been supplementing with formula since he was two weeks old. I needed my body back for my own well being. This also helped me a bit. Having Justin there to help was my saving grace. After the first four months, things slowly improved. At the year mark, things were good.
I try not to feel guilty. I try not to feel like a terrible mother for that first year. I worry sometimes that I wrecked the bonding process with Felix (when he runs to his papa when he his hurt instead of me). I have to remind myself that it was no ones fault. It can happen to anyone. I love my son. I loved him from the moment I saw him, my head just needed time to catch up with my heart.
I think some of the factors that added to our experience were that we had no support system whatsoever. We lived in a different province from the rest of our family. We had no one to take Felix for a few hours to give us a break. It was Winter which can always be a bit depressing after a while ;). I don't drive and we had no buses in our area, so I was stuck at home. We had no friends...we had recently moved to NB and were just starting to get to know a couple of couples (both of which had no kids)....so no support system there either.
Our experience still has residual effects for us even now, two years later. Justin is just now, getting use to giving me more responsibility with Felix (not carrying most of the workload on his own or taking over automatically when Felix gets difficult to handle) and when we talk about the possibility of another baby down the line, the likelihood of re-occurrence worries us.
This is just my experience. I don't recommend or not recommend (does that make sense?) anything that we did, it worked for us at the time. If we ever have another baby, we plan to talk about our experience with the midwife. We plan on having a postpartum doula as extra support. We will try to have a support system in place. And I know this might sound strange, but I plan on having my placenta encapsulated...I think it will help balance my hormones after birth.
I had postpartum depression...and I am not ashamed.

February 11, 2013


Today I am missing our "things"...our "stuff"....our "home"...When we made the decision to move to Switzerland, we were living in New Brunswick in a lovely rented house that we fixed up (they let us paint anything and everything, whatever colour we wanted!...I always wanted green apple kitchen cupboards :) ) When all was decided, we gave up the house, sold most of our furniture and donated a lot of things, packed everything up that we wanted to keep and ship to Switzerland when the time came (It is in storage in NB right now-32 boxes and a few odd items...out "things"). We then moved to Ontario to my mom's place, where we now rent out part of the house. Our thoughts were this: This way we were ready to move at the drop of a hat once Justin got a job offer, we wouldn't have a lease, packing, or downsizing to deal with. Original plan was to move this Spring, but we decided that it would be best for Justin to get his actual teaching license (he does have teaching experience, but his other tow university degrees are not in teaching). Long story short, we are here at my mom's place for a little while longer. While we have a few things that we brought with us (mostly Felix's things to be honest), sometimes, I just miss our "things"...our own space. 
Want to reminisce with me? Here are some photos of our old place....

 Having to wait a long time for something very exciting to happen can be frustrating at times, but I just keep reminding myself that it is definitely worth all the sacrifices that we have been making. The end goal is worth the wait. In the mean time, I definitely try to enjoy the moment too....but sometimes, it's okay to be a little sad too :).


February 4, 2013

Excitement is building...

Justin has his teacher's college interview this weekend! With the start of February my excitement for moving to CH is building! I think it is because we have hit the "one year mark". In approx. one year we will be filling out our visa form, and we will start officially job hunting (applying) and apartment hunting too. One year goes by so bloody fast...and this is why I am getting the butterflies already :)
This year will have so much more preparation in it, making it zoom by even faster. Once (fingers crossed) Justin gets accepted to teacher's college, we will be busy with figuring everything out with that (bursaries, loans etc). But, once that is all organized, our concentration will once again fall on Switzerland. We have been looking at all the different school sites in CH, looking at their hiring pages etc...and of course daydreaming. We can't wait! I am so excited for Felix to start school over there! I just really think that it will be an amazing experience all around! :)
Are you excited about something?

Yes, I know the  school treat cones are not that common in Switzerland (more so Germany), but I am totally going to get Felix one for his first day of school! :)

You're moving too? Part Two...

So in my other post I covered some basic amenities costs to consider/include, housing, and transportation. In this post, I was thinking of talking about groceries & necessities and health insurance (incl. other insurance as well). 

Grocery Shopping!

The cost of your monthly groceries is subjective. Do you eat a lot of meat? Do you eat seasonally? Do you buy in bulk? Do you wait for sales? Do you care about name brands? Are you trying to reproduce the same meals from back home? etc etc etc... All these things come into play...anywhere really...whether you are in Switzerland or not. We know our first trip to the grocery store will be expensive because of all the regular in stock items we have to buy new (spices, cleaning products, baking essentials, etc...). But really, everyday groceries will be about the same for us. We figured this out by doing a mock shopping trip online here at the COOP. This being said, the coop is not the only shopping option. I have read on the forum that Denner, Aldi and Lidl are all stores that offer certain things on the cheaper side. This particular thread on the English forum on food saving costs is also helpful. We don't plan on having a car, and our alternative to carrying lots of heavy groceries is going to be to get a grocery delivery once a month. For that big once a month order, we will buy all the heavier items (drinks, milk, flour etc...). All other things (bread, fruit, etc) I will get during the week by myself. The grocery delivery does not cost much (I actually saw advertised on the coop site that from now until February 10th, if you spend more than $200, you get free delivery!)...totally worth not breaking your back, especially if you live in an apartment building without a lift or have toddlers to deal with. Also, if you have never been to CH, the actual size of the refrigerators there might shock you/make you cry. Welcome back to the college/university life of tiny fridges! 
This is the average size of a fridge in Switzerland...yup.

 You might be wondering...why? Why would anyone want this tiny thing in their kitchen? By the way, they are not (usually) stand alone over there, rather built into the kitchen like a cupboard (often looking like a cupboard too). It's a Swiss thing. Most Swiss go grocery shopping daily. It is what it is. Fresh bread is bought daily at the local bakery. Leftovers are not usually the norm. You buy fresh what you eat that day or in the next couple of days. When I lived in CH, there was no Sunday shopping whatsoever and during the weekdays, shops closed during lunch for a couple of hours (Most Swiss go home for lunch, and school children too). This is still the norm for some areas, but not all anymore. Zurich especially is more accommodating. 
Is it weird that I am actually looking forward to this? I hope to cut down on our waste. It will be a nice change to have a quiet Sunday...just hang out as a family and cook a special meal together (that we bought the ingredients for before hand...because the local stores might be closed of course! ;) )

Health Insurance etc...

As i mentioned before, health insurance costs money and it is mandatory in CH.
Also another thing that is subjective...so I will just leave you this really helpful link to a site called Comparis. You can find health, travel, auto, etc... insurance there (in english too).

I now leave you with a few other online shopping sites that I have found throughout my research (and bookmarked for future use) that you might also be interested in....
*I have not ordered anything from these online stores yet, just saved them on my computer for possible future need...so, basically, I have no idea of their quality...

kidoh.ch (looks like a fun kid's toys store in CH)
allforkids.ch (another kid's store...but things that are US & UK made available for people living in CH)
kinderschaetze.ch (I am sensing a kid theme here...)
americanmarket.ch  (over priced, but if you are desperate for a piece of back home)

*I will add more as I come across them*

Stay tuned for part three!

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