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One year later: What it was like going back to work after mat leave

Melanie Ng | posted Monday, Apr 17th, 2017

When I went on maternity leave, I set my out-of-office email at work to say that I’d be returning February 2017. At the time, those 12 months felt like an eternity. I figured once I got a handle on the whole baby thing, I’d have plenty of extra time to do all the things I’d been meaning to get around to for years—like finally organize the junk drawer and clean my home computer. Little did I know how far down “organizing” would fall on my list of priorities. I was far busier—and also having way more fun—than I ever imagined. The way my son, Josh, smiled at me after a nap, the strolls I’d take with other moms—all of it really—made me feel anxious and a little sad about returning to work.

One month left of mat leave
Somehow here I am, with only a month left. It’s really starting to hit me: This world I know and love is about to change, whether I’m ready or not. My baby is no longer a baby. He’s a walking, climbing, talking little boy, and it makes leaving him excruciatingly hard.

I’ve caught myself tearing up over the smallest things—when he giggles, when he comes in for a hug, even when he’s just sitting by himself playing with toys. This is easily the most emotional I’ve ever been, and the intensity has caught me completely off-guard. I know the clock is ticking and, even though we’ll have time together at the end of each day, it won’t be the same. I will no longer be his “person,” and that kills me.

One week until I return
Everything is an emotional trigger. There’s even a certain diaper commercial that makes me cry. Every. Single. Time. I don’t consider myself an emotional person, but I can’t seem to control it—at least when it comes to my little guy. I keeping thinking about all the “last times”: the last time I get to say “good morning” to his smiling face, the last time I get to chase him around the house after lunch, the last time we get to meet up with other moms for playdates.

Going back to a job I love is the only thing that’s holding me together. I know how lucky I am. I’ve plugged myself back in, touching base with my boss and answering work emails. I can’t wait to have adult talk again and be able to think about more than just naps and feeding schedules. Part of me is excited to have a piece of my old self back, but the other part is feeling overwhelmingly guilty.

Our nanny started this week. (Between my work hours and my husband’s travel for work, having a live-out nanny really is our only choice. But, thankfully, we found a wonderful woman who seemed to bond instantly with Josh during the interview.) I wanted a full week to show her around, walk her through Josh’s routine and, of course, go through my very detailed instructions.

Once we both feel comfortable, I decide it’s time to walk away and leave them together for a few hours. It sounds like a great idea—after all, I need new work clothes. But as I head for the door, I hear them upstairs in his nursery, giggling. It hits me: Soon, his love will be spread among more people. My share might not feel like enough. As I close the door behind me, tears stream down my face. At the mall, it feels like part of me is missing. I see mom after mom with their babies. I remember how I used to think “It’ll be nice when I don’t have to navigate through stores with this cumbersome stroller,” but all I want to do is look down and see my little sidekick.

First day back at work
Everyone told me that this would be the toughest day. They were right, but no one warned me of how gut-wrenching the night before would be. Just as I’m about to put Josh down in his crib, I realize that, for the first time in a year, I won’t be there when he wakes up. I squeeze him and whisper in his ear, “Mommy won’t be here in the morning, but it’ll be OK. We’ll be OK.” (I think I need to say those words out loud more for me than for him.) As expected, my sleep is horrible. I can’t stop thinking about how everything is about to change. I question if I am truly ready for it.  

It’s probably a good thing my work hours mean that I’m at the office well before most people’s alarm clocks go off. Leaving at 4 a.m., I don’t have to say goodbye to Josh this morning, which I know would be impossible. Doing my makeup and hair—a daily ritual that I was more than happy to part with this past year— feels like I am putting on a disguise. Walking back into the newsroom is overwhelming because, even though everything is so familiar, it feels foreign. I forget passwords and need reminders about how to use certain programs. I question myself a lot. Will I be able to pick up where I left off or will my year set me back in my career?

I spend a lot of time making the rounds, getting hugs and answering questions about how I am feeling. With a smile, I give the generic “It’s good to be back, but it’s hard leaving Josh” answer to most people. But when someone really looks me in the eye and asks how I am honestly feeling, that’s when I well up and speak the truth. My cry count for the day is about five. I thought I’d have one good one and be done with it, but it’s hard being away from Josh. My mind wanders often as I think about what he might be doing. Is he OK? Is he wondering where I am? I find solace in other moms at work. As my day comes to an end, one co-worker says to me, “You did it, Mama. It only gets easier from here.” I hope she’s right.

The end of my first week back
It’s Friday, and I survived. That has to be a good sign. I can honestly say that I am feeling more confident each day—confident in my ability to get back into “work mode” and that my sweet little boy will be fine without me.

I’m not going to lie: I’m tired. There is no downtime in my job—which is actually a blessing—but going from my full-time job to my other job of parenting an energetic one-year-old is exhausting. The juggle is well worth it but totally tiring. I wasn’t quite prepared for that part, and I’m in awe of all the other parents who make it look so easy. It’s great being back: collaborating with creative minds, learning new things, feeling that incredible adrenaline rush of doing live television. But the best part of my day, hands down, is coming home and hearing the sweetest word: mama.

Melanie Ng is an anchor and a reporter for Breakfast Television.

That is one big baby! Birth stats out for April the giraffe’s calf

The Associated Press | posted Monday, Apr 17th, 2017

April the giraffe’s calf is nursing strongly and his mother is recovering “perfectly,” said officials with Animal Adventure Park on Sunday after a morning veterinarian check with the newborn.

April gave birth to a healthy male calf Saturday at the privately owned Animal Adventure Park before an online audience of more than a million viewers.

The 15-year-old giraffe delivered her calf shortly before 10 a.m. EDT in an enclosed pen at the zoo in Harpursville, a rural upstate village about 130 miles (209 kilometres) northwest of New York City.

The calf weighs in at 129 pounds (58.5 kilograms) and stands 5 feet 9 inches tall (1.75 metres).

“April has recovered perfectly and is eating everything in sight!” the team posted on its official Facebook page .

Seconds after birth, April tenderly licked her calf, which began to slowly pick his head up from the floor of the pen. About 45 minutes after he was born, he stood on wobbly legs while mom helped keep him steady.

At least 1.2 million people watched the Adventure Park’s YouTube streaming of the event. Zoo owner Jordan Patch said both mom and calf were doing fine.

Patch called the birth “unnerving” to watch. “Giraffes give birth standing up, which means when the calf is ready to be born, it exits its mother hooves first from six feet off the floor, making for a very exciting event,” he said in a news release.

The newborn is April’s fourth calf but Animal Adventure Park’s first giraffe calf. Giraffes are pregnant for 15 months on average. The proud papa, a 5-year-old giraffe named Oliver, watched from an adjacent pen. This is his first offspring.

The zoo began livestreaming from April’s enclosure in February. People around the world have been tuning in daily, with some growing impatient as the pregnancy seemed to drag on.

A Farmington, New Hampshire, songwriter even posted a music video on YouTube called, “I’m Going Crazy Waiting (For A Giraffe).”

April has her own website and even an apparel line. A GoFundMe fundraiser page that initially set a goal of $50,000 sat at more than $134,000 by Saturday night. The money will be used for the care of the animals.

A contest will be held to decide on a name for the calf.

Animal Adventure park is currently closed to the public and will open in mid-May.

Suspect wanted after shooting, killing a man during Facebook Live stream

The Associated Press | posted Monday, Apr 17th, 2017

Cleveland police are searching for a homicide suspect who broadcast the fatal shooting of another man live on Facebook.

Police have identified the victim as 74-year-old Robert Goodwin Sr.

Police say Steve Stephens shot Goodwin on Sunday afternoon while he was recording live on Facebook.

Police say the man broadcast another video of himself later on the social media network claiming he had killed other people.

Sgt. Jennifer Ciaccia tells cleveland.com that police haven’t verified any slayings besides the one Sunday afternoon in the city’s Glenville neighbourhood.

The video of the killing was posted on Facebook for about three hours before it was removed. His Facebook page apparently was deactivated later Sunday afternoon.

This is not the first time Facebook Live has been used to broadcast violence or death. In January, four people in Chicago were arrested after they allegedly beat and taunted a mentally disabled man live on the social media site. Then in March, a 15-year-old Chicago girl was apparently sexually assaulted by five or six men or boys on Facebook Live, and none of the roughly 40 people who watched the live video reported the attack to police, authorities said.

“This is a horrific crime and we do not allow this kind of content on Facebook,” said a spokesperson for Facebook. “We work hard to keep a safe environment on Facebook, and are in touch with law enforcement in emergencies when there are direct threats to physical safety.”

Cleveland Police Chief Calvin Williams is urging Stephens to turn himself in and not to “do anymore harm to anybody.”

Police say Stephens should be considered armed and dangerous.

Williams said Stephens may be driving a newer model white Ford Fusion. Anyone with information is asked to call 911.

Leafs battle Capitals in first home playoff game since 2013

News Staff and The Canadian Press | posted Monday, Apr 17th, 2017

After a thrilling double-overtime win for the Toronto Maple Leafs in Washington over the weekend, the tied series returns to home ice on Monday.

Game 3 against the Capitals gets underway at 7 p.m. at the Air Canada Centre.

It is the Leafs first home playoff game since May 12, 2013.

Nikita Zaitsev is a good bet to make his series debut after sitting out the first two games with a suspected concussion.

Zaitsev skated at Air Canada Centre on Sunday afternoon and either he or Alexey Marchenko will get the nod for Monday night.

However, Roman Polak will miss the rest of the post-season after suffering a right leg injury Saturday in Toronto’s 4-3 victory.

The opening game of the best-of-seven series also went to overtime last Thursday. Tom Wilson scored about five minutes into the extra session to give the Capitals a 3-2 win.

Mike Babcock doesn’t think fatigue will be an issue as the series continues.

“I’ve been in tons of these series where you play lots of overtime,” he said. “The great thing about it is you’re playing at the greatest time of year. It’s fun anyway and you’d be amazed at how much energy you have.

“So let’s just keep on going.”

Game 4 is scheduled for Wednesday in Toronto and Game 5 is set for Friday in Washington. Game 6 heads back to the ACC on April 23. If a seventh game is necessary, it will be played in Washington.

Once again, fans will converge at Maple Leaf Square to party with other fans and watch the game on the big screen on Monday. The tailgate party starts at 5 p.m.

For anyone who is planning to drive to the ACC, keep in mind that the eastbound Gardiner Expressway ramp to York, Bay and Yonge streets is closed.

Eastbound Gardiner ramp closed permanently

CityNews | posted Monday, Apr 17th, 2017

Commuter chaos in the downtown core is set to reach a new level Monday morning as the eastbound ramp from the Gardiner Expressway to York, Bay and Yonge streets permanently closed at 5 a.m.

The ramp is one of the most used off-ramps.

As CityNews first reported back in February, the ramp is set to be replaced with a shorter one from the eastbound Gardiner to Lower Simcoe Street, but that is not slated to open until January 2018.

Harbour Street will eventually be widened to four lanes from Lower Simcoe to Bay Street as part of the project in order to accommodate the additional traffic. It will also improve pedestrian and bicycle access to the waterfront.

During construction, Harbour will be reduced to two lanes of traffic in the area and there will be periodic closures of the centre lane on the street from Lower Simcoe to Bay street between May 1 and June 15.

According to the city, more than 4,500 vehicles travel the eastbound Gardiner from Jameson Avenue to the core every hour during the morning rush and 3,300 of them use the York-Bay-Yonge off ramp.

Motorists will be able to access the downtown area by exiting the eastbound Gardiner at the Jameson, Spadina Avenue and Jarvis Street exit ramps. From April 10 onward, eastbound Lakeshore Boulevard will be accessible from the eastbound Gardiner at Spadina.

Traffic signal timing on alternate routes will also be adjusted to minimize congestion but motorists should expect delays.

Work on the project is expected to take place Monday through Saturday from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. and overnight work will take place on the weekends.

Detailed information is available on the City of Toronto website.

Liberals introduce long-awaited bill to legalize marijuana

The Canadian Press | posted Thursday, Apr 13th, 2017

The federal Liberal government has finally launched its long-awaited effort to legalize recreational marijuana, setting in motion a host of sweeping policy changes for public safety and health across Canada.

The suite of bills — which would establish 18 as the minimum legal age to buy pot — was introduced in the House of Commons by Justice Minister Jody Wilson-Raybould, Public Safety Minister Ralph Goodale, Health Minister Jane Philpott and Foreign Affairs Minister Chrystia Freeland.

The new legislation would establish a “strict legal framework” for the production, sale, distribution and possession of pot, and make it a specific criminal offence to sell cannabis to a minor.

Adults over 18 would be allowed to possess up to 30 grams of dried cannabis or its equivalent in public, share up to 30 grams of dried cannabis with other adults and buy cannabis or cannabis oil from a provincially regulated retailer.

They would also be permitted to grow up to four plants per resident for personal use, as well as make legal cannabis-containing products at home.

The government aims to establish “significant penalties” for those who engage young Canadians in “cannabis-related offences” and a “zero-tolerance approach” to drug-impaired driving, along with a “robust” public awareness campaign.

It would also provide additional investment for licensing, inspection and enforcement challenges.

Provinces, territories and municipalities would be able to tailor rules for their own jurisdictions, enforcing them through mechanisms such as ticketing.

They will also be permitted to set their own licensing, distribution and retail sales rules, establish provincial zoning rules for cannabis businesses and change provincial traffic safety laws as they deem necessary.

Philpott says criminalizing cannabis has not deterred use among young people, noting products like alcohol and tobacco are legally available with restrictions.

Once passed, the Liberal bills introduced today would make Canada the first member of the G7 to legalize marijuana for recreational use across the country.

Related stories:

Legal pot bill could require logo, brand free packaging

Ontario police gearing up for rise in drugged driving after pot legalization

Trudeau says legalized pot will keep youth safe, take money from gangs

Maple Leafs begin quest for Stanley Cup in Washington

CityNews | posted Thursday, Apr 13th, 2017

The Toronto Maple Leafs kick off their first Stanley Cup playoff series in four years on Thursday as they take on the Capitals in Washington.

The puck drops at 7 p.m.

While the Leafs haven’t won the Cup since 1967, the Capitals haven’t won Lord Stanley since the team’s inception in 1974. Washington won the Presidents’ Trophy for having the most wins this season.

Toronto’s goalie Frederik Andersen is expected to be between the pipes, but the Buds will be without rookie defenceman Nikita Zaitsev. He is sitting out Game 1 after a hit into the boards in Sunday’s 3-2 loss to the Columbus Blue Jackets.

As the Leafs begin their quest for the Cup, hundreds of fans are expected to gather at Maple Leaf Square on Thursday night for a tailgate party. Gates open at 5 p.m.

The Leafs are one of five Canadian NHL teams who have made the Stanley Cup playoffs this year. Last spring, all seven of Canada’s teams missed the playoffs for the first time since 1969-70.

The Buds are not the only Toronto sports team in the playoffs. For the first time in 15 years, the Leafs and the Toronto Raptors are playoff-bound at the same time.

Malala Yousafzai receives honorary Canadian citizenship

Stephanie Levitz, The Canadian Press | posted Thursday, Apr 13th, 2017

The irrepressible Malala Yousafzai, the teenage Nobel Peace Prize winner who famously survived a Taliban bullet in 2012, delivered an enduring message of hope, perseverance and inspiration Wednesday _ and did it as an honorary Canadian citizen.

Yousafzai used her newfound membership in the Canadian family and towering presence on Parliament Hill to apply a little friendly pressure, calling on the country to go beyond honorifics and take a global lead in ensuring more girls can go to school.

“I know where I stand,” Yousafzai said during a moving speech to a joint session of Parliament that was punctuated frequently by thunderous standing ovations.

“If you stand with me, I ask you to seize every opportunity for girls’ education over the next year.”

The 19-year-old called on Canada to make girls’ education the centrepiece of its work as host of the G7 next year something that would bring full circle the process of how the Pakistani activist became Canada’s sixth honorary citizen.

The accolade was originally to be conferred by former Conservative prime minister Stephen Harper, whose inner circle thought honouring Yousafzai would be a logical offshoot of their government’s focus on women and girls’ health when Canada last led the G7.

“Malala is an international symbol of perseverance for not only girls and women but for all of us, she embodies what it means to be Canadian,” Harper said in a statement Wednesday.

“Malala’s incredible story and tireless work to give millions of girls a voice will leave a lasting impression for generations.”

She was to have personally received the honour on Oct. 22, 2014, but on that day a gunman rampaged through the very building where Yousafzai stood Wednesday before an audience of dignitaries, MPs, cabinet ministers and diplomats.

“The man who attacked Parliament Hill called himself a Muslim — but he did not share my faith. He did not share the faith of one and a half billion Muslims, living in peace around the world. He did not share our Islam — a religion of learning, compassion and mercy,” she said, her parents beaming from their front row seats.

“I am a Muslim and I believe that when you pick up a gun in the name of Islam and kill innocent people, you are not a Muslim anymore.”

The gunman “shared the hatred” of the man who attacked the Quebec City mosque in January, who killed civilians and a police officer in London three weeks ago, who killed 132 school children at Pakistan’s Army Public School in Peshawar, she said.

“The same hatred as the man who shot me.”

Malala sang Canada’s praises throughout her speech, which even included a subtle jab at the shifting political landscape in the United States.

“‘Welcome to Canada’ is more than a headline or a hashtag,” she said.

“It is the spirit of humanity that every single one of us would yearn for, if our family was in crisis. I pray that you continue to open your homes and your hearts to the world’s most defenceless children and families — and I hope your neighbours will follow your example.”

She urged the federal government to put its upcoming presidency of the G7 to good use, and also to use its influence to help fill the global education funding gap, noting some 130 million girls are without access to education.

“The world needs leadership based on serving humanity — not based on how many weapons you have,” she said. “Canada can take that lead.”

Equal parts humour and humility, Yousafzai appeared at times even younger than her now-famous activist countenance as she related how much excitement there was at home over the prospect of meeting Trudeau in person.

They say: ‘He’s the second-youngest prime minister in Canadian history! He does yoga! He has tattoos!’ she grinned.

“While it may be true that he is young for a head of government, I would like to tell the children of Canada: you do not have to be as old as Prime Minister Trudeau to be a leader. I used to think I had to wait to be an adult to lead. But I’ve learned that even a child’s voice can be heard around the world.”

She added, to the “young women of Canada” in particular: “Step forward and raise your voices. The next time I visit, I hope I see more of you filling these seats in Parliament.”

Trudeau said later he was inspired by her words.

“She challenged us as Canadians to think about how we can continue to strive for justice, for equality for opportunities for girls and women around the world,” he said. “I certainly look forward to renewing our efforts to have a positive impact in the world.”

Canada’s other five honorary citizens are the Dalai Lama, the Aga Khan, Nelson Mandela, Burmese activist Aung San Suu Kyi and Swedish diplomat Raoul Wallenberg.

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