A CURATED SELECTION OF

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BY THE MOTHERHOOD PROJECT

Chalk it up to faulty eustachian tubes, 2/3 of my children have issues with their ears!

Blake, my 10 month old was born on a Friday. There was no hearing screening available to us at the hospital during the time we were there Fri-Sat, so as standard procedure dictates, we were referred to our local health unit and audiology dept. (we’ve been there done that which I’ll explain later)

We took newborn Blake to his first test, the exact test they do in hospital, and he failed. At that point, they do a secondary test which he also failed. Being a newborn and a c-section baby, fluid can linger SO we were scheduled for further testing several weeks later. Given our history (coming) we knew what all of this would likely mean and the audiologist at the health unit (who we know as my daughter sees her regularly) gave us the plain truth that this would likely be an issue.

3 weeks later, further testing and another failed result. Let me just say here that this…is…stressful. The whole process of testing, waiting, testing ugh all while dealing with everything else going on with a newborn, recovering from surgery, and the schedules of 2 other children etc What the tests showed at that time is that Blake has fluid in both of his ears. Is it impacting his hearing? Doesn’t seem to be, but who really knows. Will it impact his hearing down the road? Maybe. It also might clear on its own (not too likely given our history)

Given all these findings we agree with the audiologist that a pro-active referral to our favorite ENT is a good idea. We have been seeing Dr. Matthew Dickson approx every 3 months since my almost 6 yr old daughter was 6 months old. Yup.

Let’s talk about my daughter for a sec-Quinn! What a doll. Quinn failed her initial hearing test in hospital, failed all subsequent follow up tests and so began the routine of alternating appointments between audiologist and ENT. Pretty much every 3 months for each. We would go to the health dept for testing and find fluid present. We would then follow up with the ENT and confirm that fluid was present. Over and over again. The surgery to place tubes isn’t recommended until at least the age of 1 as fluid can resolve/disappear on its own during that timeframe as the internal structures of the ear grow. Quinn’s did not. What happens AFTER a year with fluid in your ears is that the fluid starts to thicken which can, and likely will, start to affect hearing which will typically then affect speech development. OMG total slippery slope. While trying to be conservative and not jump right to surgery, we monitored the situation until Quinn was 2. In retrospect, this was too long and I would not do it the same way again knowing what I know now. By the time she was a little older than 2, knowing that preschool would be right around the corner, we elected to have tubes placed in both her ears. I kid you not, THE DAY she had the tubes placed, she was a different kid. It was then very evident to us the extent her hearing had been affected. CRAP. Happy to be heading in the right direction, it was hard to know we could have helped sooner. Fast forward to preschool, kindergarten and now Gr.1….her speech has been impacted enough that it warrants regular speech therapy. We started speech path in preschool at the recommendation of Quinn’s amazing teacher. We continued it privately on and off (many frustrations here over assessments, what her needs actually were and what she was actually doing) and then got her in to the speech path program at her school in K after MUCH advocating (always advocate guys. Even if you feel like you are being annoying, advocate. If I hadn’t, she would have been left behind as she was already through the cracks. Let me put it this way, the principal at our school knows who I am after MUCH strongly worded correspondence.) She now continues to receive treatment once a week and has made/is making SO much progress. She is also highly motivated and loves to do the work. By the end of Kindergarten SHE knew she was struggling and began asking for more support which by the way is totally heartbreaking. ANYWAY She’ll be ok and is great but the whole process/journey has taught be many things and opened my eyes in many ways. Which brings us back to Blake…

Blake’s most recent appointment shows he still has fluid in both ears. He will go back in 3 months-his appointments are now scheduled with Quinn’s follow ups so we don’t have to attend multiple appointments-and then we will decide what to do. By then, he’ll be just over 1 and we will be able to make an informed decision on whether or not we want to have tubes placed….spoiler alert, he will likely get tubes.

What I want you to know, well there are a few things. Both Quinn and Blake have not suffered from ear infections. They haven’t had any chronic issues with their ears at all. They were simply born with fluid in their ears and the fluid did not drain/has not drained. Now, they WERE both c-section babies and it can be argued that by not passing through the birth canal, they missed the opportunity to have the squeezing and compression occur that MAY move fluid our of the ears. However, my first born was also a c-section baby, also failed his in hospital test, but passed all further tests and has had zero issues with his ears. So, who knows for sure.

There are still children who fall through the cracks. If the in hospital test is not performed, you really need to be proactive to schedule and attend the tests yourself. This can be a barrier and a deterrent for some. I have heard of some children going with an undiagnosed hearing/speech problem until it was caught later in school due to behavioural issues that look like not listening/not paying attention/day dreaming/shyness OR issues with language, comprehension etc

The long and the short of it is this. Ears, noses and throats are important. Have them tested, especially if your newborn is missed for whatever reason. Issues do not always look obvious like with infection AND there are tons of excellent resources available in my, your, our community!

Questions?? Looking for resources yourself or know someone who is? Let me know! I am very much in the loop and happy to help!

xo

Jen


The truth is, it’s a thing! Does it happen to everyone? No. Can it happen to you? Certainly.

Never heard about postpartum hair loss? That’s a thing too. It’s medically called Telogen Effluvium and I talk to women all the time who have not yet learned about this lovely, hormone-related time during the months after having a baby. If you never experience postpartum hair loss, high fives and hugs to you – you have dodged a wee bullet. If you are going through it, or would simply like to know what it’s about in case you or someone you know does, read on!

I have actually held off on this post as I was waiting for my hair loss to subside. BUT, seven months PP and it’s still going on, sooooo here we are. There’s value in telling you it may continue for several months.

I have three children and have had hair loss with all three. This most recent time has been the most dramatic, and I have noticed it the most – i.e. visually noticed it in the way I look, and visibly noticed it in the sheer amount of hair everywhere (floor, pillow, hands, sink, baby’s hands, clothing, food, you name it!). It is also the most emotionally impacted I have been. It has really made me feel more self conscious, less confident and more exposed/vulnerable! Interesting, right? It’s just hair! But, as it turns out, hair and its association to how we feel about ourselves and how we feel we are perceived is also a thing! Hair is tied to lots of emotions for many.

In my experience, it was around four months postpartum (a common time line) with my most recent baby that I noticed the shift. It was literally like I woke up one day to large amounts of my hair falling out. Like, lots of it. If I ran my hand through my hair, there would be a handful of hair to show for it. All our shower drains became clogged (I would literally lose clumps of it in the shower and could only catch so much!). There was suddenly hair everywhere. Even my kids would ask where all the hair was coming from! The vacuum could barely keep up and I began to see my hair thinning in the mirror. Here’s the kicker – this is considered NORMAL! Now, I should mention here, that I DO have a thyroid condition and hair loss is a symptom that things are not managed as well as they could be. However, my TSH levels came back in good range and my doctor assured me that it was just the common, temporary postpartum hair loss and I should just ride it out. The buzz word here, guys, is COMMON. Now, there are lots of things you can read about that may help with postpartum hair loss; this post is not about those things. I simply want to explain what it is (we are getting to that), share my experience to help normalize this thing no one ever tells us about, AND let you know it is indeed temporary and you are beautiful at this very moment – whether there are handfuls of hair in your hands (as opposed to on your head) or not!

WHAT IT IS

Postpartum hair loss is hormone-related. Ever notice that when you’re pregnant your hair is thick, voluminous and grows very fast? Hormones! Specifically, estrogen. Our hair typically has a growth cycle. It starts with a growth phase, moves into a resting phase, and eventually goes through a shedding phase before the cycle starts all over again. During pregnancy, as estrogen increases, more follicles to enter the growth phase than the resting phase and thus, more hair. VOILA!

Following childbirth, estrogen levels drop (eventually returning to their pre-pregnancy levels), prompting the hair follicles to enter the resting phase and fewer hairs to grow. After about 100 days in the resting phase, the hair begins to… you guessed it – fall out! The timeline here can also be impacted by whether or not you are exclusively breastfeeding, supplementing etc yep, hormones are responsive to these things!

In addition to estrogen (and progesterone) changes postpartum, stress and nutrition impact hormone levels, which can also influence hair growth.

WHEN AND FOR HOW LONG

As I mentioned above, four months is a common timeframe to start noticing PP hair loss. It can last up to a year, but *usually* the normal hair cycle will resume by about six months. I am currently seven months PP and am still experiencing hair loss; however, it has slowed notably. PHEW.

CAN I PREVENT IT/CAN I STOP IT

The short answer? Not really. Hormones are going to change the way that they do – I usually tell people to hold on to their hats because it IS a wild ride. The extremes of the ride are thankfully temporary, and PP hair loss is too. What you CAN do (and should do anyway) is eat a healthy diet, drink lots of water, continue to take your vitamins, get enough sleep (haha), manage stress, make time for appropriate forms of exercise, and try to be patient. Although it can be concerning or trigger certain feelings, PP hair loss won’t last and it does not impact your ability to continue being a kick-ass mom.

**IF you are concerned about your PP hair loss, suspect you may have a thyroid condition, or know that you do, definitely consult with your physician. I recommend every postpartum woman get their thyroid checked if you haven’t already. You iron levels can also impact hair loss, so add that test to the list!

Here are a few pics of my hair loss journey. From straight up balding – I know that sounds dramatic but it was dicey, guys – to now, growing new hair where it was all lost prior. Again, PHEW.

Here, you can full on see where my hair was receding all around the crown of my head! I almost photoshopped this picture when it was taken but opted not to. This is legit what I was going through and I’m happy to know it and share it.
Handfuls of hair, all… day… long. This was roughly four months PP and a regular occurrence until seven months PP.
Seven months PP – still losing hair, but not nearly as much.
New hair growth throughout crown. It is a different colour and different texture. Of course it is.

trying to keep it real,

xo

Jen


Guys, this is definitely a topic I previously had zero intel on! A couple weeks ago, B had his 6 month well baby exam and he was, very well-testicles and all! 3 days later I noticed something seemed a little off with 1 of his, ahem, balls. 1 more day and it was obvious something was absolutely wrong. I showed my husband assuming he would have an opinion and sure enough, his reaction was, we’re going to the hospital right now. In terms of symptoms-there was a lot of swelling, discolouration and the whole left side of his scrotum was hard as a rock. EEEK. SO on a Sunday night, after obviously Googling the situation and reading that certain conditions if not dealt with right away can mean the loss of the testicle, B went on a wee trip to Surrey Memorial Hospital. First of all, we have been to Surrey Memorial Paediatric Emerg several times with all our kids, and every time they are just awesome. Definitely recommend them in the case of an emergency! Anyhoo, back to B. Upon his initial exam we learn a few things. 1) It could 1 of 4 things; 3 of which will require emergency surgery 2) if not dealt with right away, he could indeed loose his testicle all together. See, Google gets some stuff right 3) it is likely not an infection (1 of the 4 things) so prepare for surgery and 4) he’ll need an urgent ultrasound, blood work and urine tests. Omg.

Since it was now late on a Sunday night, there was no ultrasound tech to be found so they had to call one in. This took a while but not at all as long as I would have expected. Chalk it up to ball saving measures. The U/S was very thorough and B loved every minute of it. They were checking out blood flow, looking for twists and other random things, and assessing the inflammation etc I will say here, B was the best patient throughout this whole ordeal. Smiling and laughing and loving all the attention. All of it haha. We waited for the radiologist to review the test and the Dr. came back with reasonably good news. They ruled out torsion and the other conditions that would require surgery-turns out it was the least likely scenario, an infection (he had no other obvious signs of infection which is another reason why they assumed it was not this. No fever, so heat at sight, no pain or obvious discomfort). They drew blood to confirm and rule out a bunch of other stuff and also ran a urinalysis. After all the tests, we were sent home around 12am? with a 7 day course of antibiotics and a follow up referral with a Urologist. More on that to come.

We went to see our GP 2 days later and she thought B might need an additional few days of medication. Not thrilled by this but we agreed to come back and see her at the end of the 7 days IF things weren’t totally cleared up. This would end up a mute point because our specialist got involved saving us the trip back to the GP.

In the meantime, the Urologist requested another ultrasound be done after the 7 days of meds….the day before we are scheduled to go out of town of course. We got this done at Jimmy Pattison in Surrey. It was quick and again, B loved it all. Based on those findings, the Urologist also decides to extend the antibiotics to 10 days just to be sure. This was all done over the phone and via fax in a very quick and organized way I was impressed and thankful everyone, including the pharmacy, was so helpful and accommodating given our travel plans which were clearly, not their problem. The specialist fit in our case between surgery and what I would later find out, a million other patients!

Fast forward to today. Our in person follow up with the Urologist. Wowsas. I have never in my life been to a busier practice and I’ve been to lots. We waited, I kid you not, out in the hallway in overflow seating as the entire office was packed. Like, completely packed. We were told in advance by the MOA that the practice is a busy one and that we could wait anywhere from 15 minutes to 60 minutes. We indeed waited the full 60. OH by the way, this is me and all 3 of my kids (the kids were all extremely well behaved for whatever reason). When we finally got in to the exam room, we waited for just a couple minutes before the man himself, Dr. Andreou (Urologist and Surgeon) came in to see us. He was amazing with kids (definitely not his demographic based on the packed house stats), super knowledgable, and super friendly. He took an appropriate amount of time reviewing everything with me and then doing a quick exam of the baby. We were not rushed and he did not seem concerned about the hoards of people waiting outside and I appreciated all of the above. When all was said and done ie 5 minutes later, we were sent on our way with an almost clean bill of health (not 100% yet) and a referral for another ultrasound in 3 months and another follow up appointment after that. My oldest said right away and in front of the Dr, “What?, we waited all that time for THIS?” At least the big kids will be back in school for the next one *rolls eyes hard here*

In a nutshell a pretty eye opening experience. You never want to see your kids sick or in need of emergency care but I feel very fortunate that we have access to the resources that we do and grateful for my 6 month old who just never skipped a beat and was never overly bothered by any of the poking or prodding. Except maybe the oral antibiotics. Administering those to a baby? Not an easy task.

What I learned and take away from this whole thing:

1-Testicular infections are not overly common and not common in babies for sure. If I had to guess, we need to bathe this 3rd child more because it was likely caused by bacteria just getting in there.

2-Testicular ANYthing funky is often an emergency and should be evaluated by a professional. If it’s not an emergency, cool but you should err on the side of caution I’m told. Those puppies are delicate and depending on the situation, there can be a short window of time for treatment before things go mega sideways and you’re down to 1.

3-There are amazing Dr’s, Nurses, Techs, Specialists and support staff out there! We hear lots about the negative stories and nightmarish encounters but we were handled by excellent professionals at all points of contact, every step of the way. Totally impressed and grateful for this.

4-Urologists are in HIGH demand. Holy moly.

5-When in doubt, check it out.

Hope this sheds some light on a random happening you will likely not experience but could benefit from hearing about if someone you know or love has any issues with their junk! It happens!

xo

Jen


It seemed appropriate to start this Blog with a welcome post. Truth is, I have been holding off on posting any of many, many, posts I have been building in my mind during my own journey through motherhood until I officially wrote something as a welcome. So, this will be that!

As a personal trainer to women with a background in psychology, a prenatal and postnatal fitness specialist, a yoga instructor who relies on being comfortable sharing and receiving feelings AND as a mother with 3 kids, several pregnancy losses, many challenges and interesting curve balls throughout each child’s life to this point, there is a lot of content I want to cover. Like, a lot.

The priority of my life’s work is to connect, support and build community for women and mothers. In all the ways I know, I will do this. I hope that in sharing my knowledge, and lived experiences I may be able to educate and empower as well as normalize and shine a light on some of the stuff we just NEED to normalize and shine a light on!

This work is deeply personal to me. It takes a certain willingness for vulnerability in order for me to create the space I want to create for you and it only works when you in turn are willing to share or at least take a close look at your journey as well. One thing I find my self saying repeatedly is that we, as mothers, are not alone. Not ever. We share so much more than we know and I wish for us each to feel the relief that this truth offers.

At The Motherhood Project, yes, we are providing fitness, yoga, and other support services to prenatal and postnatal women however, we are also using these things as a vessel to the good stuff. WELLNESS. The connection, the community, the return to or appreciation of self. The heart of it all, whatever that looks like to you. Our plan and desire is to create something authentic with real, sustainable value that can be felt. We want you to be a part of it. We want to be a part of it.

Thank you for your support. You are doing an amazing job. And, WELCOME.

xo

Jen