Real Mama: Amanda Desjardins

Amanda and I have known each other for years! I believe we met for the first time in grade five - but don’t quote me on that. She is an amazing single mama who is working her tail off to provide a wonderful life for her super cute daughter, Scarlett, by going back to school full time. You are an inspiration, Mama!

Tell us a little about yourself.

My name is Amanda Desjardins. I am a single mother to my beautiful daughter Scarlett, who was born January 28, 2011. I am attending college full time. Around five years ago I was diagnosed with Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome and my doctor told me I was probably never going to have children. So when I found out I was pregnant with Scarlett, it was the happiest moment of my life. Being a mother is the most amazing thing that has ever happened to me. Scarlett is my motivation to go back to school so I can better provide for her in the future.

Where is home?

I live in Kitchener, Ontario, Canada.

What are your secrets to balancing your life as a full time student and single mama?

As mentioned above, I am a full time student at Conestoga College. I am currently in the Legal Administration program. Being a single mother was not my plan, but sometimes things don’t work out and we just have to make the best of it. My parents are the most amazing people - when things didn’t work out with my daughter’s father, we went to live with my parents. They are my biggest cheerleaders through this all and are there for me 100 percent.

My life is a lot easier now that I am out of school for the summer with Scarlett. But while I was in school it was a huge struggle. My day would start off roughly at 6 a.m. - I’d get Scarlett up and get us both ready for school, take her to daycare, and I would go to the library and work on school work until my classes started. At 2:45 p.m. I would pick Scarlett up from daycare, go home, make dinner, and it would be play-time, bath-time and story-time. Bedtime was 7:30 p.m. And that’s when I would work on homework until around 1 a.m. and get things ready for the next day. My biggest secret is… lots of coffee and a good routine!

Who has been your biggest inspiration?

My parents are my biggest inspiration. They are the world to me and have taught me so much.

What has been the best advice you’ve received as a mama? What do you feel is the best advice, if any, that you’ve given as a mama?

Take pictures and write things down. My mom always told me to do that, and I am so happy I did because time flies by so fast and it’s impossible to remember everything.

Best advice I would say is to do what feels right for you, trust your gut. Everyone is different and have different opinions and views on parenting, you should always do what feels right to you, even if others don’t agree.

Are you the kind of mama you thought you’d be?

I am trying to be the mama I always thought I’d be. I always pictured it differently; being married, having my own home, and having a professional job. But things just happened differently than I thought they would. Of course I would never change a thing. I have learned many things about myself since having Scarlett. I know I have a lot of patience. I also never knew I would be able to love someone more than I love myself.

Where do you see yourself in ten years?

In ten years I will have a 12-year-old… weird to think about! I hope to own my own home, have a good career, and maybe by then I will have met someone and be married and hopefully have four more children!

If you could have any superpower, what would it be?

Unlimited energy! Scarlett is two years old and I have trouble keeping up with her all day long.

Image by A Flash of Class by Jessika Rusk

Was your birth experience all that you hoped it would be? If you could go back and change anything, what would it be?

My birthing experience was not what I thought it would be at all. I was in labor for 36 hours! After being in labor for a full 24 hours, I went into the hospital totally exhausted from having contractions all day and not sleeping the previous night. They broke my water and gave me an epidural… I was only 3 cm dilated.

While giving birth I had a high fever and Scarlett was born with one as well. I was so exhausted that I didn’t hear all the nurses talking and saying there was something wrong. They called a pediatrician in the room and took blood samples. They said everything was okay and they would monitor her. Things were going normal until that night when they told me they were taking Scarlett to the NICU, and they thought she had an infection. I went to see her half an hour later and she was hooked up to all sorts of machines, she had an I.V. in her hand, and I couldn’t believe my baby might be sick. We had to stay in the NICU for five days; it was the longest five days of my life! The nurses in the NICU were amazing, they taught me how to breastfeed, and any questions I had they eagerly answered them. At the end of our five day stay they got the results back that Scarlett was healthy and we were free to go! I would change a lot of things about my birthing experience.

Image by Cuddlebugz Photography

How has your mothering evolved since those early newborn days? Is there anything, thus far, in your approach to mothering that you swore “I’d never do…” and you are?

It was hard adjusting from a two parent team to doing it by myself. Thankfully my parents are always willing to help out whenever I need it.

Something I never thought I would do: until recently Scarlett slept in my bed. Everyone told me it was wrong and that I shouldn’t let her sleep with me, but it’s the only way she would sleep through the night! To me, sleeping with Scarlett close to me just felt right. So from birth until about five months ago Scarlett slept in my bed. She now sleeps through the night in her own room and in a double bed. Also the whole licking your finger to clean off their face… I hated that! And now I do it daily.

Do you have a mama mantra? Or something you find yourself repeating over and over when times are tough?

When she’s a teenager she’ll hate me, so even if she’s being impossible, try to sneak in as many cuddles and kisses as you can.

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