Real Mama: Stephanie Saar

Image by Michelle Fox Photography

Tell us a little about yourself…

I am a 35 year old mom of three and step mom to two…that’s right, five kids in total! My amazing husband and I are the proud parents of a 10.5 month-old-boy, a 5-year-old-boy, a 7-year-old girl, a 12 year-old-girl and an almost 17 year old girl. We run the gamut from teething to teen angst, from diaper rashes to driver’s licenses. I always wanted a big family. I am the oldest of two girls, but come from a huge family on my mom’s side. Family get togethers were always a huge deal, and I love that one day my husband and I will enjoy the same thing with our children’s children.

I am currently wrapping up my final maternity leave and will be returning to work at the best University in Canada…Western University!  I work in central administration there and am torn between being excited to return to work and sad to leave behind the days of hanging out with the kids at home.

My amazing husband just became my amazing husband on March 1st, at a small, intimate ceremony with our closest friends and family at Cave Springs winery in Jordan Ontario. It was the most perfect day, complete with falling snow, just the way we pictured it!

Where is home?

Home is London, Ontario.

What are your secrets to balancing your life as a working mama?

Because I am returning to work soon, I would classify myself as a working mom. Balancing life as a working mom, and one that has a partner who works shift work, requires organization and the ability to let things go a bit. My house is rarely clean Monday through Friday. I am also not a huge fan of activities for kids through the week, but my kids are at an age now where that appears to be unavoidable, so meal planning is becoming necessary. Hello Crock Pot!

I also aim to spend time with friends as often as possible. We get our kids together (they are all friends) and we unwind after a long week with a bottle of wine and good conversation. It always helps to know that everyone else has had a crazy week and we all made it out alive (sometimes just barely). Hubby and I try to spend time together just the two of us as often as possible as well. Sometimes that means over a cup of coffee at 4:30 in the morning before he leaves for work for the day, but you take the time you get and run with it!

Who has been your biggest inspiration?

My biggest inspiration was a lawyer I worked for early in my career. She was the ultimate working mom. She was a successful lawyer, who balanced a very heavy caseload, with a very busy family, and never missed a beat. She left the office every day at the same time (and yes, took work home with her) but was always there to pick her son up from daycare. She had the most positive upbeat personality, always a smile on her face, and handled stress with ease. To this day I aim to be like her.

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?

I think the best advice I was given and the best I have received is the same. Breastfeeding is hard work. And it’s not for everyone. If you can do it, good for you, if you try it, good for you, if it works out, good for you, but if it makes you miserable, and you find yourself hating it, stop. Because you only have so much time with that wee baby, and you don’t want to look back on it and remember hating it. I breastfed all of my babies for varying lengths of times (10.5 months, 14 months and six months) and not always happily ;) but I do remember getting that advice, and giving it many times to new mamas.

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

Truthfully no. I thought I would have far more patience and be the kind of mom that was crafty and playful and imaginative. I’m not. I was not crafty before I gave birth, I am not sure why I thought growing a child inside me would suddenly give me the ability to craft!

Where do you see yourself in 10 years?

Hopefully less tired! 10 years from now, I will likely be a grandmother (YIKES) will have watched two children go through college/university, and will be sending another in that direction. And will come to the realization that we will NEVER be able to retire.  I will also be holed up in some arena somewhere cheering on one of my boys playing hockey.

If you could have lunch with anyone famous (dead or alive) who would it be?

I would love to have lunch with the Duchess of Cambridge. She always looks amazing, seems so “real” for someone so in the spotlight, and I think it would be interesting to talk about what her everyday life is like.

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

I’d divide myself into five, so I could give myself fully to each of my at home kids, to my husband and myself. Someone is always being asked to wait, someone always gets the short end of the stick, and someone always sacrifices. That person is usually me. I would love more time for me. 

Were your birth experiences all that you hoped they would be? If you could go back and change anything, what would it be?

My first two births were planned c-sections. My first baby was breech, and a planned section was the safest mode of delivery. I was fine with it at the time, recovery was tough, but it was okay. My second delivery 2.5 years later was a repeat section. I liked that I knew when it was happening, but my recovery was hard. I got very sick afterwards, and spent a week in the hospital with sepsis. When a doctor tells you that you are lucky you came to the hospital when you did, or you may not have made it, you are thankful you listened to your body!

When I got pregnant with my third, I decided to try for a VBA2C (vaginal birth after 2 c-sections). I had an incredibly supportive obstetrician who knew I could do it. When I went into labor, the on call doctors and nurses were not as supportive, calling my decision “unconventional” and I was monitored very closely. I had an epidural that didn’t work and felt every contraction until 9.5 cm. Because I had never labored before, and the concern with a VBAC is always uterine rupture, the pain I felt (and the thought that my epidural was working, but I was feeling pain) was that my uterus was ripping apart. I wish I had known what a contraction felt like so that I could mentally have dealt with what I was feeling. I was scared. I thought I was going to die, or my baby was. In the end, I successfully delivered my little guy, and all was well (oh, and the epidural was finally removed, re-inserted, and worked…at 9.5cm!). So would I change anything? Sure. A working epidural would have been super. 

Image by Michelle Fox 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?

I’ve learned to relax a lot from baby number one to baby number three. Baby one, I followed all the rules: don’t feed them this until this day, don’t let them sleep with you, don’t hold them too much, don’t do this don’t do that…now I do what works, knowing that I can always undo whatever habits I create, because nothing lasts forever with babies. I was also a slave to sleep routines with number one…and never left the house. Number three sleeps on the go… a lot.

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

“This too shall pass”. Teething, sleepless nights, tantrums, toilet training…it all ends eventually. We all make it out the other side. You will sleep again, the teeth will come in, they will get out of diapers…eventually. I try to embrace each stage, because they are all stages. They all lead to something with those little beings. They all form who those little ones become, are part of who they are. So I embrace it. It’s a small blip in their life. 

Is there anything else you wish to share with the Mama Say What?! audience?

You’re doing great. No matter how long it’s been since you took a shower, or how messy your kitchen is, or how fabulous you look today, or how you still have 10 lbs. of baby weight to lose, or you’ve lost all the weight and then some…way to go mama. This “being a mom thing” is hard. The hardest thing I have ever done. I’m proud of my big accomplishments and the little ones…like taking a shower some days. So keep up the good work. You’re doing great!


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