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This is a sponsored post. All opinions expressed below are my own. 


When Mer and I moved into this house we agreed that we’d hold off until we committed to buying or hanging any artwork. Back at the apartment I bought and hung so many pieces that we didn’t really love that we eventually ended up damaging the walls by rotating the pieces so often because it never looked or felt “right”. When we packed up and said goodbye to the apartment we also said goodbye to the artwork – those pieces although lovely to look at had really no meaning to us.

I’ve realized that I’m happiest surrounded by things I love. Whether it’s my favorite pillow, quilt or picture frame – each of those items has some strong emotional value attached to it that brings me peace and happiness. I just love walking up our staircase and seeing our partially completed picture wall. Each image is a reminder of a moment in time that marked our lives in some significant way. Each image is a reminder of a happy moment that we get to relive for a brief second every time we walk past. Sometimes I catch myself stopping to just take all those moments in.

When Happy Maps generously offered to provide one of you fine folks A Happy Map I jumped on the opportunity to host a giveaway. Happy Maps literally encompasses everything Mer and I have been searching for in artwork- personal, nostalgic and beautiful.

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If you’ve never heard about Happy Maps I highly suggest you go explore their website. But, before you head over there let me tell you a little bit about the company that is creating individualized prints that preserve special moments in your life.

Happy Maps tells your unique story!

They are personalized maps that include a map (color of your choice), latitude / longitude co-ordinates of your location of choosing, date and a special saying acknowledging both the time and place of the moment you’re honoring. How cool is that? They make awesome gifts for loved ones, friends, weddings, rainbow babies (!!!) and any other special moment or occasion you want to cherish forever.

There really is no better type of art work is there?

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For my own Happy Map I’d likely choose the hospital where baby girl was born as our location – date it with her birthday and inscribe it with the quote “the day our family was finally complete”.

Aren’t these just beautiful?

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What’s super interesting about Happy Maps is the backstory about how this concept came to be.I’m such a sucker for a good backstory and couldn’t help but smile when I read about Enrick Bui’s (the creative authority behind Happy Map’s) innovative creation as a gift to friends who were getting married.

What a lovely, thoughtful and creative idea!

To enter for a chance to win a Happy Map of your own, leave a comment below telling me what location you’d choose for your very own Happy Map and why!

Giveaway closes on Sunday March 12th at 6pm EST.

Winner will be chosen at random and announced on Monday March 13th and will receive a customized Happy Map (no frame).


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This post contains affiliate links, which means I receive a small commission if you make a purchase using the links to any of the products mentioned below.


I’m so so excited that it is finally Friday – it’s been a rough week anxiety wise and I’m really looking forward to having Mer around to give me a small break this weekend. I think I might head to a local coffee shop tomorrow and treat myself to a cappuccino and a much needed emotional/physical break from my role as mom. I feel awful that I’m so desperately craving a break from my kid but it’s just been such a rough week (sleep training, teething, general fussiness coupled with my own anxiety issues) that I just need some time to sit and just be me and not mom for a few hours.

Highs

[1] Margs slept in her pack and play 4 nights this week. This is HUGE since we couldn’t even put her down anywhere but our bed without having her wake up screaming. She hasn’t slept through the night yet but the physical separation means that Mer and I are finally sleeping in the same bed again. We’ll take it – even if it means getting up 2-3 times per night to help soothe her back to sleep. Eventually, we hope she’ll be able to self soothe. But, for now we’re celebrating this small victory.

[2] My meal prep on Sunday has made dinners this week an absolute breeze. I prepped a cottage pie, baked fried chicken, pork chops in a white wine mushroom sauce, Mediterranean chicken, rice with lentils, broccoli rab & green beans. Dinner has been basically been heat and serve – there’s no mess to clean and it makes our evening routine with Margs much more relaxed an easy to manage. Is anyone interested in the recipes? If so, I’d be more than willing to post them on the blog. Just let me know!

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[3] We celebrated Margs’ 14th month birthday this week. It’s truly amazing to watch her grow. It seems like she’s changing by the minute. She’s currently walking, talking and exploring like it’s nobodies business. She continues to amaze me every single day.

Lows

[1] I’m feeling rather isolated most days which isn’t good for my anxiety because it gives me far too much time to think and feed the spiral. I should try and immerse myself in our small community and start going to play groups with Margs again or find another activity we can join that will give us both the opportunity to socialize but winter in the Canadian north sucks guys – it makes going out so difficult.

[2] I’m over winter. I’m nursing a very sore shoulder thanks to having to chip 2 inches of ice from our driveway. I used to love winter but now it’s just hard. The cold, the unpredictable weather, the crazy amounts of baby gear needed to keep Margs warm and safe. Some days it’s just easier to avoid heading out at altogether. It’s pretty but totally not practical.

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[3] I’m struggling with my own sleep patterns. I’ve never been a great sleeper but recently it’s been increasingly difficult to fall asleep at night. I’m sure our horrible sleep situation wasn’t helping. There are far too many nights where I find myself awake binge watching Netflix hoping I’ll doze off. Some nights that means no sleep until 3-4 am.

[4] I’m still trying to find an allergist to have Margs tested. I’m so incredibly frustrated that one, not one clinic has called me back and that two, we might have to wait up to 2 years to find out if she is in fact allergic to blueberries because the wait list is that long. Socialized health care really sucks sometimes. In the meantime, we’ve got an epi-pen and we’re avoiding blueberries. I’m just worried there are other allergies we don’t know about.

So there you have it, my highs and lows for this week!

What are your highs and lows for this fine week of February 6th?

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Me at 22 weeks. Day 54 of bedrest.

When Mer and I embarked on our journey to start a family way back in 2012 we never imagined where that road would take us. We naively thought that every pregnancy led to a take home baby and that pregnancy complications were rare – so rare in fact, that we’d never be affected.

Sadly, we we became a statistic and were faced with cervical incompetence, repeat pregnancy loss, a uterine septum and then some strange form of secondary infertility that was never explained.

When we finally got pregnant again in 2015 the plan was simple: cervical cerclage at 14 weeks and strict home bed rest for 23 weeks with the threat of hospitalization if I didn’t follow the rules. My doctor was intense; she was on a mission to get my rainbow here full-term and so her plan was more conservative than most.

I took 22 pills per day, held my breath and gestated horizontally for 161 days.

I took one seated shower per week for a maximum of 10 minutes. I walked only to use the washroom and ate laying down. One day when I was bored I timed myself – I spent 17 minutes on my feet over a 24 hour period. 16 steps to the bathroom and 16 steps back.

It was hard. I’ll never lie and say it was easy. However, I do think I made the best of it by keeping my eye on the prize and reminding myself what the alternative could be. I was determined not to be a statistic again.

Here are a few tips that I’ve come up with. These are things I did that really contributed to keeping me sane and in the best possible head space considering the circumstances.

1/ Stations.

Mer set up bed rest stations for me throughout the house. We lived in a one floor apartment and the distance from washroom to the bedroom, kitchen, living room, patio and nursery was virtually the same. He hunted down a couple of lawn chairs that reclined back completely. This allowed me to eat in the kitchen, spend time outdoors and spend time in the nursery.

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The change of physical space was crucial for me. It gave me the opportunity to create a routine that made my days structured which normalized my unusual situation. When on bed rest small things like eating with your family, spending time outdoors or being able to read a book somewhere other than your bed is a huge highlight in your day.

2/ Routine.

Establishing a routine was key. My days included scheduled self care, internet use, reading, outside time, television, phone time, meditation and hobbies. Without this structure I’m positive my days would have been consumed by endless amount of television making the days longer and far more unbearable.

Every day, I sponge bathed myself and got dressed in real clothes. I then had breakfast while watching the morning news.  Late morning, I’d  read or color mandalas and then have lunch. Afterwards, I’d spend a few hours outdoors on the patio before coming in to surf the internet and make phone calls. After dinner Mer and I would watch a movie or catch up on episodes of whatever television show we were watching on netflix.

I also never napped because I did not want to disturb my sleep patterns. My doctor had warned me that sleeping away the day could result in sleepless nights so I never allowed myself to nap. As a result, I never dealt with sleeping issues while on bed rest.

3/ Community.

There are a number of wonderful online communities related to conceiving, pregnancy and high risk pregnancy. I became part of a community where I could go to chat with other women who were in similar situations. It was nice to discuss my situation with other ladies who understood and it was so incredible to be encouraged and supported every step of the way. My favorite community is Then Comes Family.

4/ Vulnerability.

Some days were harder than others. With Mer away at work most days there were moments where I felt so overwhelmed by my situation that I felt I couldn’t continue. In those moments – I became vulnerable and I told anyone who would listen to me how I was feeling. It’s okay to lose it sometimes, it’s okay to cry, to be angry or to be fed up. Bed rest isn’t normal – there’s clearly some element of grief that comes with a bed rest pregnancy. Grieving the normal pregnancy I  would never have made me angry some days.

Instead of fighting it I just allowed myself to feel those emotions. Usually, I’d get a grip on the situation quickly. I’d move through the anger and frustration by reminding myself that the alternative was far worse. What worked most of the time was reminding myself how fortunate I was to be growing a healthy baby. My “funks” would usually only last a few days and then I’d be back to my usual routine.

5/ Accepting Help.

Accept help. Ask for it. Ask anyone who will be willing to lend a hand. Take it and do not feel bad about. My husband, mom, mother in law, aunt, cousin and neighbours were a blessing. When you’re on bed rest your home life is thrown upside down. Mer now had to work a full-time job, care for me and care for the household all by himself. It was a lot and he realized really quickly that he couldn’t handle it all on his own. Tell people when you need something. If you’re chatting with a friend and they mention they are going to the drug store don’t hesitate to ask them to pick up a few things for you that you need. Most people are more than willing to help if you just ask. If you’re mother in law wants to come and do laundry – let her. If your mom wants to cook your meals- let her. If your neighbor wants to bake you something or lend you books – let her. Take all the help you can get and don’t feel bad about it.

6/ Take care of yourself.

I was limited to one seated shower per week for a maximum of 10 minutes. Greasy hair basically became the norm and I just had to accept that I couldn’t do much about it. Having said that, I made it a point to sponge bathe daily. Mer would set up a large bowl of warm water with soap and a wash cloth so I could clean myself up. I found this was such an important part of my routine because it helped me feel human. Feeling dirty which is inevitable when you are not allowed to shower really takes its toll on your morale. A small 10 minute sponge bath, combing my hair, putting on makeup and real clothes really helped me feel like myself. I also always felt I looked my best (my best with greasy hair mind you) so I could welcome in last minute visitors or anyone who decided they’d pop in to spend some time with me.

7/ Eating well.

Eating well while pregnant is so important. Eating well while pregnant and on bed rest is even more important. Being bed bound means you are burning far less calories and so to keep weight gain to a minimum it’s super important to have healthy meals and snacks ready and waiting for you. Our system for food was simple – Mer would prepare snacks (fruits, veggies, cheese, yogurts) and place them in a small cooler near my bed. He’d also prepare bottles of ice water so I could stay hydrated throughout the day. You’d really be surprised by how much water you consume. Most mornings he’d load up about 60oz of ice water to sustain me throughout the day.

8/ Counting up.

When trying to get pregnant I used an app called Fertility Friend. Once pregnant I used it to to count up my days of bed rest. I really looked forward to updating my progress- every morning I upped the number and reminded myself how lucky I was to still be pregnant an extra day.

Some ladies use calendars where they mark an X, others keep track by ticking off a chart – it’s just so important to see the progress so you can remind yourself how well you’re doing and how far you’ve come.

9/ Small achievable goals.

At one of my first appointments with my doctor I told her “I don’t know how I’m going to do this”. She told me to set small goals. My first goal was passing my loss milestone, then it was passing viability. From there I worked my way up to 28 weeks (the original goal my doctor set for me), then 32 weeks and finally 37.

If you approach it any other way the burden is just too hard to handle. Keep your goals small and attainable. Take it day by day and minute by minute if you have to.

10/ Accept what is.

This one was the most important for me. I had to accept that my pregnancy was not normal. I didn’t get to experience pregnancy the same way most women do and although it was hard to accept I did. I reminded myself frequently that despite the unusual circumstances I was carrying our miracle baby. I was so fortunate to be given this chance and there was absolutely nothing I wouldn’t do to get Margs here safely. We cannot change the circumstances we are given – we cannot alter the path the universe has handed us- we cannot control the past but we can accept the future and do the absolute best we can with what we have been handed. As a result, I followed the rules. I never broke bed rest. Never. I followed my doctors rules despite my aches and pains and restlessness some days. Bringing Margs home was my number one priority and I just did what I had to do.

I wrote this post after realizing that I’ve gotten a good chunk a traffic from people googling “bed rest tips” or “surviving bed rest”. If you’re currently on bed rest and need someone to talk to please do not hesitate to reach out. I’ve lived it and I know that it is probably the most emotionally draining thing you’ll ever have to do. There’s fear, anxiety and anger all wrapped up in a journey that should otherwise be full of happiness and excitement.  I can be reached via email at thistinybluehouse@gmail.com, on instagram and even on twitter.

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This post contains affiliate links, which means I receive a small commission if you make a purchase using the links to any of the products mentioned below.

Have you read Kon Mari? I’m sure most people who get here from visiting the #minimalism tag will know all about The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up: The Japanese Art of Decluttering and Organizing. If not, the book basically describes Kon Mari’s method of tidying which is built on the premise that items that bring you joy remain while all the rest are discarded. It’s essentially a how-to guide for decluttering and organizing your home.

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I first read it last year while on bed rest – I enjoyed it the first time around but didn’t necessarily agree with many of her beliefs (more about that another day, maybe.) Anyway, while sorting some books recently I came across it again and decided to give it a second read (ha! take that Kon Mari!).

This time, I read it and felt far more inspired and connected to her words. I still don’t really agree with some of her beliefs. Namely, her notions about objects of sentimental value, collections and photos.   But, I felt far more in touch with what she was saying and sort of had a lightbulb moment.

Maybe, just maybe I’ve been quasi Kon Maring my home and life without really knowing I was doing it. Maybe, just maybe her method allowed me to regain some control over my life – maybe, it’s helped me close a very dark chapter in my life.

Here’s what nearly through me off my chair.

“ when you put your house in order, you put your affairs and your past in order, too”

I find it ironic that my need to simplify really peaked after Margs was born. I find it even more ironic that I’ve been feeling my best physically and emotionally since I’ve minimized the stuff in my life. Could it be that I’ve somehow managed to finally put the past behind me? Is it possible that Kon Mari subconsciously inspired me to declutter my life so that I could finally accept my heartbreak and move through the final stages of my grief?

I’ll never get over losing my babies. I’ll never forget nor will I every fully stop grieving for the future I should have had with them- perhaps though, I’ve minimized my life as a way to bring joy back into my life and finally find the peace I’ve been searching for for so long.

These last few months have involved holding, touching and looking at things that reminded me of my lost babies. One day it was a pair of maternity jeans I wore with the twins. Another it was a sonogram photo of our second set of lost twins. I’ve handled candle holders used for vigils to honor these lost little ones. I’ve been faced with dried flowers from their funerals and hospital bracelets from my numerous surgeries.

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Maybe, just maybe, I’ve finally faced my past.

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