She’s Here!

Madeleine Claire arrived September 25, 2019 at 2:55pm. Weighing 7.1lbs & measuring 21.5″ long, she came into the world with her cord wrapped around her neck 4 times (!) and in just 3 pushes.

I’m finally sitting down to write about Madeleine’s birth story and I’m not sparing any details, so let’s do this!

Tuesday, September 24 at 4pm

Hubby and I went to my OBGYN for our regular weekly checkup. It has been a busy day of “nesting” and I already had slight contractions when I went into my appointment. My doctor had promised me that at this appointment, we would determine an induction date for our baby. No, baby wasn’t overdue, but according to our 32 week ultrasound, she was measuring in the 90th percentile. My doctor felt that we could minimize the risk of emergency C-section by inducing me at 39 weeks pregnant. I was game! I had been extremely uncomfortable since 37 weeks and the though of continuing on was unpleasant. During the appointment, my OBGYN gave me a “membrane sweep” which involved gently lifting the detal membrane from the cervix and lower part of the uterus. This “sweep” releases chemicals that help soften and open the cervix for delivery. With Charlotte, it resulted in natural labor just 1 day later. During the procedure, my doctor noted that I was already having contractions, so hopefully the “sweep” would speed things along.

Tuesday, September 24 at 7:30pm

After putting Charlotte to sleep, my contractions increased in urgency and frequency. I had been getting false labor pains since about 36 weeks, so I tried the best I could to ignore them. Hubby and I ordered Lebanese food, and by the time it arrived 30 minutes later, I could barely eat one bite because the contractions were so intense. I decided to start timing them. After 3 hours,  the contractions were coming every 3 minutes and lasting about 1 minute. We called the caseroom at the hospital and they said to come in! Hubby had been painting a dresser for Charlotte’s new room, so he asked me to wait 30 minutes while he finished, showered, and called his mom over to watch Charlotte. At about 10:30, my mother-in-law came over and by 11pm, we were in a taxi on the way to the hospital.

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Settling in for the night with the baby’s heart rate monitor & contraction monitor

Tuesday, September 24 at 11:00pm

We arrived at the hospital and there was nobody in the maternity ward! I was the only pregnant lady. VIP service! The nurses checked me out and noted I was about 3CM dilated, and decided to admit me. They put an IV in (IMHO it’s the worst part about giving birth!) and I cried because Pat had gone to fill out the paperwork and I was alone. Once we were settled in, we called my mom to come to the hospital. She was there for Charlotte’s birth and I needed her in the room for this one too. My mom is my biggest cheerleader & advocate, so I needed her with me just in case. Plus, I love my mom beyond words and wanted her to witness her second grandaughter being born! So my mom shows up, with my Dad in tow because my Dad is a total sweetie and wanted to wait in the waiting room until I gave birth. We all thought that baby girl’s arrival was imminent…

Wednesday, September 25 at 2:30am

Labor stalled. As I tried to get some rest, I noticed that contractions were few and far between. I was annoyed. I had rang the alarm and nothing was happening! The nurse poked around me and had me bounce on the birthing ball and walk around…but nothing was happening. And because there was no doctor in the ward that night since it was quiet, I had to wait until 8am for any kind of physical intervention (drugs, breaking water, etc) as only a doctor can do it. So, we waited…hubby slept on a vinyl pull-out chair that was too small for him, my mom slept in a rocking chair, and I slept in the bed feeling guilty as hell that I was inconveniencing everyone. Such a mom feeling!

Wednesday, September 25 at 8:00am

Doctor arrived! Hallelujah! Let’s get this show on the road. After yet another hand up the V, he agreed to induce me a day early. I was already scheduled for a Thursday induction, so I basically skipped the line by getting admitted early. So it was determined – Sept 25 will be baby’s birthday.

The nurses started me on a really low dose of Oxytocin to get the contractions going again. And then we played the waiting game… The contractions were really subtle at first, like a period cramp. The nurse kept increasing the dosage steadily, and I could breathe through them, or walk, or rock, or bounce on the birthing ball. From the beginning, I had made my intention of an epidural clear! I wanted those drugs. So, around 10am, I was about 5CM and had enough, so I asked for the anesthesiologist. Good thing I did! He was on his way to two emergency C-sections and ran into our room.

Wednesday, September 25 at 10:00am

I have a profound needle phobia. They really are the only thing I’m truly terrified of…so the epidural was a huge fear. With Charlotte, I was delirious with pain, so I think I blocked out the entire experience. But, this time, I wasn’t quite in tremendous pain yet, so I remember the entire thing clearly. I wiggled my way to the edge of the bed, and braced myself for impact. For epidurals, you have to curl your chin to you chest and CAN NOT MOVE (even if you’re having the worst contraction of your life). I remember telling the Dr, “Let me know when you start!” and he said, I’m already done. Epidurals are blissful.

Wednesday, September 25 at 11:00am

At this point, I was stuck on the bed, and not feeling any pain but feeling a lot of pressure with each contractions (guess this was the baby moving down into position). The contractions were steady, but I wasn’t moving past 5CM, so it was water breaking time. That was a weird experience. With Charlotte, my water broke naturally, but this time, the doctor broke it with what looked like a giant knitting needle. I felt like a giant balloon was deflated inside of me…it just kept going and going. Afterwards, the contractions changed and there was more pressure, but still, relatively pain free. Thank God.

Wednesday, September 25 at 1:00pm

The nurses had been monitoring the contractions and the baby’s heart rate from the beginning and noticed that her heart rate was dropping significantly with each contractions. At first they thought it was because the monitor (or baby) had moved, so they kept shifting it around on my belly, but ultimately, they determined that she wasn’t liking the high dose of Oxytocin I was getting at this point (I think the max was 120ML?)

They took me off the medicine, and waited to see if my body would start contractions on its own. It felt like nothing was happening and I was starting to get a little frustrated with the whole process. Was she ever going to get here?

Wednesday, September 25 at 2:00pm

I started to feel this weird pinching in my uterus, like someone was pinching me from the inside – almost like a runner gets a stitch in their side. With each contraction, it would get more and more uncomfortable. I wanted to get up and switch positions, but couldn’t because of the epidural. I could only roll from side to side.

Wednesday, September 25 at 2:50pm

Something didn’t feel right. The pinching was unbearable and suddenly, I felt huge pressure in my bum. That’s the pushing cue! Once the pressure moves from the front to the back and you feel the urgency to go poop, that’s how you know you’re ready to push. I called for the nurse, who immediately looked between my legs and yelled for the doctor. According to hubby, she yelled for the doc down the hallway and said “Dr, you don’t have time for those C-sections, she’s crowing!” At which point, the entire room mobilized and was flipped into a delivery room – lights on, stirrups up, crash cart, baby bassinet, doc in scrubs & mask.

The second my legs went up in the stirrups, I could hear my mom exclaim “I see her head!” The baby was literally THERE! I barely had time for 3 pushes and she was out. Well, that’s not true, at 1.5 pushes the doctor told me to STOP! She had the umbilical cord wrapped around her neck 4 TIMES! That’s what accounted for the drop in heart rate. Because I had a lot of water, and an abnormally long umbilical cord, it was able to wrap itself around the baby’s neck, so with each contraction, it was getting tighter and tighter. The doctor said he had very rarely seen this in non-C section babies (of course I have to be the special case LOL). Anyways, he expertly cut the umbilical around her neck so as to unwrap it, and then 1.5 more pushes and there she was in my arms.

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Our first moment together. I was sobbing hysterically – I couldn’t believe she was real!

Wednesday, September 25 at 2:55pm

I was in shock. I remember sobbing hysterically saying, “she’s here, I can’t believe it! I thought she’d never come. Is she real?” After every delivery, there’s a flurry of activity and I remember looking over to the nurses holding her and noticed she looked a bit blue. The nurses rubbed her down and gave her a bit of a smack and she let out the biggest WAHHHH, and then was silent. So quiet that I thought something was wrong and began to cry louder. Thankfully, it’s just her little personality, because as they put this tiny little skinny thing in my arms, her eyes searched for mine. Love at first sight.

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My little long & lean baby – 7 pounds, 3 ounces of perfection.

The hospital where I delivered is a big breastfeeding advocate, so they allow for skin-to-skin with mama for an hour or so after delivery so baby doesn’t get measured/weighed right away. I was dying to know how big she was. She looked identical to Charlotte – my little stretched out rubber chicken, so long and lean. She took to the breast almost immediately (it’s funny how your body remember what to do). And there you have it…Miss Madeleine’s arrival into the world.

And now that she’s here…life will never be the same.

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Cute right from birth 🙂

REAL TALK: How was your birth story? Magical? Traumatic? Share below!

How to Choose a Newborn Photographer

There is nothing more precious than the first moments in your little one’s life. At any moment, our second little girl will be here and I don’t want to miss a thing. With Charlotte, I thought I had done a good job capturing every second, but there were definitely some opportunities I missed –  like the famous newborn photoshoot! Because we had so many breastfeeding issues (read about them here), I didn’t get my act together until about 6 weeks to take infant pictures of Charlotte. Although I adore them, looking back, I wish I had captured her as a sleepy, swaddled, squishy brand-new baby.

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Charlotte at 6 weeks old – taken by our friend Sandra Milioto. Our little baby bear – I love this picture of her so much!

This time around, I’ve already booked a newborn photographer – Tanis Saucier. Based in Montreal-area from her full-service studio, she’s been working with newborns and their families for over 10 years. As a mom herself, and a former elementary school teacher, she understands how quickly babies and children change and is passionate about helping parents remember every sweet detail. I honestly teared up looking at her portfolio, imagining my new little babe all wrapped and posed.

Images © Tanis Saucier Montreal Newborn Photography

For other moms looking to take studio newborn photography of their bundles of joy, here are some words of advice from Tanis:

  1. When to schedule: Newborn sessions work best with babies 14 days and younger (ideally between day 5-10). During this time, newborns are sleepier, and still have that instinct to curl up.
  2. Photo inspiration: Tanis always scheduled a conversation before the photoshoot takes place to get an idea of what kind of photos a parent is looking for. Will there be a sibling involved? Do you only want pictures of the baby? What colors/poses do you like?
  3. What to bring: No need to bring anything with you for your newborn. Tanis will have everything you need – including props, bonnets, blankets, outfits and headbands. You will need to bring a backup shirt for the parents, as accidents definitely happen.
  4. During the session: The newborn session lasts about 2-3 hours. Once you arrive, feed the baby so that it will be nice and sleep for the photos. Tanis will pose and handle your baby with the utmost care, capturing closeups of tiny toes, lips, lashes and fingers.

 

There’s so much more that goes into a newborn photoshoot! Talk to the pro, Tanis Saucier, and she’ll be able to answer all of your burning questions. You can find her on Instagram at: @tanissaucierphotography

 

As for me, I can’t wait to share our little girl’s name & photos!!! Stay tuned 🙂 

REAL TALK: Did you take newborn photos of your little ones?

 

All Experience is an Arch – JORD Watch Giveaway

It’s been a while friends!

I’ve been so overwhelmed with my many responsibilities (as a mom, a wife, a sister, a friend, an employee, a social media influencer) that the blog has fallen to the wayside… but I’m back & ready to share what’s been going on in Jen-land.

One of the biggest developments in my life is that we’re expecting baby #2 in about 3 weeks! I know, I know…I should have posted about it sooner on the blog…but MOM LIFE! Well, be prepared to be spammed with baby news, baby products & new mommy stories, because baby girl is coming and I’m going to overshare like usual. To stay up-to-date on all current life events, make sure you follow me on Instagram.

This brings me to the point of this blog…TIME. The expression “Time Flies When You’re Having Fun” has never been truer. The last 9 months have literally flown by in the blink of an eye. Charlotte’s pregnancy seemed to go on and on, but baby girl 2’s pregnancy is FLYING by.

I’ve been stylishly keeping track of the time with my new JORD Watch. I’m wearing the SIER ARCADIA and have gotten so many compliments! It’s classic minimalism designed for versatility. The JORD watch face is a beautiful white marble, and battery-powered quartz analog movement keeps the minimalist silver hands ticking. It actually comes with interchangeable leather and metal mesh band. I prefer the leather for every day as it’s a bit more rugged (I wore it apple-picking this week!), but will definitely be wearing the metal for special occasions.

JORD watch giveaway

In addition to beautiful natural watches for men & women, JORD also has Apple Watch Bands and a variety of accessories, including exotic wood sunglasses. One of my favorite things about the company and their watches is that they are sustainable, made of natural materials and offer free engraving to make your watch extra special. 

I actually opted to engrave my JORD watch with a quote that has a lot of meaning: “All Experience is an Arch.” It’s from Tennyson’s “Ulysses” – I know I’m fancy…but actually my grandfather used to say it to me all the time, and it basically means that everything we experience is just a tiny glimpse of something much bigger, but because we experience it uniquely, it’s like looking into a world where nobody has been before. If that’s not the truest quote about motherhood, I don’t know what is!

So for all you mamas, looking to stylishly keep track of time, JORD Watches & I are hosting a giveaway!

We want to give you a $100 off any watch or accessory of your choice. And after this giveaway is over, all participants will receive a 10% coupon code so no one is left out. It is open internationally to men and women ages 18 and up. To enter; CLICK HERE (www.jordwatches.com/g/justjenp). Good luck!

Fox + Wit

Wow! To say it’s been a busy month would be an understatement. Between the frantic driving to/from daycare, a grueling social schedule on the weekends and mastered a fledgling work routine, I don’t know where the time went. The leaves seem to have turned colors overnight and we’re one step away from a snowflake here in Montreal.

The last thing on my mind recently has been blogging (but I have been ALL about Insta-stories, so if you don’t follow me, you better!) But when I came across this online boutique, I knew I had to hop on here and share. Fox + Wit is for all my size 12 and up ladies, for those that love one-of-kind plus size pieces that make you feel like a million bucks. AND, they’ve even started to offer extended sizing (sizes S-L), so everyone can wear fabulous clothes. I connected with Janean, the Fox + Wit Founder, through Instagram because we share the same motto: when it comes to fashion, size doesn’t matter! Her mission is to find unique, modern and fun pieces that you can’t find anywhere else.

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Get the look at Fox + Wit! Wearing 1X in top & bottom. Sweater/Skirt/Scarf

 

 

Love how different these pieces are! The sweater has a cool, lace-up detail at the back and would look equally great with jeans. The skirt is vegan suede and features a patchwork detail at the front; I took a close-up to show you how pretty the detail is. And the blanket scarf I’m wearing is literally the scarf of my dreams! Not only is is my fave plaid print, I love how cozy and soft it is. The clothes fit true to size, which is rare for a plus size boutique. I wear a 14-16/1X and that’s exactly what I’m wearing here. Also, I’ve been a big fan of tucking in my tops recently. It used to freak me out that my baby belly would show, but I’ve been owning it more and more. Like RuPaul always says, “If you can’t love yourself, then how the hell you gonna love someone else?!”

As a special treat to you, Fox + Wit and I have teamed up to give away a 50$ gift certificate to shop online!

TO ENTER:

  1. Follow @justjenp and @foxandwitinyourcloset
  2. Like my contest post & comment by telling me one way you like to spoil yourself!
  3. Tag a friend for extra entries!

Winner will be picked at random and contacted through DM.

Contest ends on: 10/30/18 at 8PM EST

Contest is in no way sponsored, administered or endorsed by Instagram. By entering, you are confirming you’re at least 18 years of age, release Instagram of responsibility, and agree to Instagram’s terms of use.

 

A Day in the Life

So many of you asked what a typical “day in the life” looks like now that I’m back at work and balancing a career, mom duties, being a wife and generally living my life. Here it is, as honest as I can be. Hope that you’ll find some comfort in the fact I’m a completely normal person, just trying to get through a day.

6am Alarm on phone rings. I hit snooze for 10 minutes. My husband has been up since 5:30AM getting ready for work, and of course, because I have super human mom hearing, I knew he was awake even before he did! I try to sneak in some extra Zzz’s because I am NOT a morning person.

6:10am Snooze goes off. I check the baby monitor to make sure Charlotte is still dozing. She usually wakes by 7am, so that means I have 50 minutes to get ready in the morning. My hair is washed from the night before, so that saves shower time.

6:15am Wash my face and moisturize. While waiting for my serum to soak in, I check social media and the weather. I refuse to do more than 3 steps of skincare in the morning, so 5 minutes later I’m onto makeup and hair, which take 30 mins total (I will totally share these routines when I am not strapped for time!) Hubby leaves around this time, so I kiss him goodbye for the day.

6:50am My clothes are chosen the night before so I never have to try to think of outfit inspo…because again, I am not a morning person! I inevitably always change once before settling on an outfit. Today I’ve chosen a dress that I’m absolutely in love with. It’s from one of my favorite online stores, Pink Blush. They carry everything from maternity, plus size, regular size and even plus size maternity. It’s fashion for modern motherhood. I’ve talked about their incredible dresses before HERE and HERE. I love a wrap dress because it’s the ultimate feminine silhouette. I love how the wrap shows off my waist, and for once, the neckline actually stays closed! I did NOT have to re-adjust ONCE! Miracle of miracles. You can get this exact dress HERE. It’s a stunner.

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Navy Stripe Ruffle Plus Wrap Dress available at Pink Blush.

6:55am I head downstairs to make Charlotte’s breakfast (fruit, yogurt and multigrain toast with PB) and prep my coffee. I try to let Charlotte sleep for as long as possible so I eat breakfast quickly solo and get my shoes/coat/bag ready. Lunch is made the night before, so I don’t have to worry about that in the morning.

7:10am-ish I start to get antsy if Charlotte hasn’t woken up by now. So I’ll head upstairs and pace outside her door before going in to wake her. I absolutely HATE waking her because, like me, she’s not a morning person. But the morning cuddles are the best! Quick diaper change and change out of PJs into daycare clothes (which I lay out the night before).

7:15am Charlotte is a super fast eater, so everything gets devoured pretty quickly. If she wants to take her time with her yogurt pouch, I bring it to daycare so that she can finish it there. We do 10 quick minutes of playing/cuddling/talking/singing/dancing/reading before packing up and walking to the car.

7:30 am Charlotte and I are in the car on our way to daycare. It takes approx 9 minutes to get from home to the daycare and Charlotte is dropped off by 7:50 latest. I like to take my time and chat with the daycare educators…they are looking after my child, after all! I want them to know everything she’s been up to since yesterday and also let them know that I value them and respect how hard they work.

7:50 am Headed towards the highway, probably listening to Adele “25” because I’m a mega-fan like that…feeling like my life is under control…until I hit TRAFFIC! Living in the suburbs can be the worst! Work is only 20 kms away and it can take upwards of an hour to get there.

8:30 am Ideal day, I’m at my desk by this time, checking emails, gossiping about the latest fashion news or what we bought online the night before.

Yadda yadda yadda (wait, did you just yadda yadda work? Yup! Because my days are always different and my routine constantly changes, which I love…but this blog post is long enough already LOL)

4:30 pm Time to hit the road. TRAFFIC sucks the life out of me. I usually call my mom and chat with her on the drive home. If she’s not available, I’ll listen to a podcast to pass the time. But mostly, I’m counting down the minutes until I can see my little nugget.

5:15 pm FINALLY HOME! I burst in the door as Charlotte is eating dinner. My husband finishes work early so he always picks up the baby and gets dinner ready. I try my best to have something made the night before for her. I also made a ton of frozen meals before I went back to work, so that that there’s something ready to go for hubby and me.

5:30 pm  Family time. Usually it’s a dance party starring “Baby Shark”, but sometimes it can be a walk together. This is my favorite part of the day.

6:00 pm Bathtime. Another favorite. Charlotte is happiest in the tub. I have her bedtime routine down to a science and it takes exactly 25 minutes to bath her, slather her with cream, in her pjs, in the sleepsack, 3 songs and then sleep.

6:30 pm Charlotte asleep and it’s time for Mommy and Daddy to eat.

7:00 pm Post-dinner cleanup and wind down. I like to watch any “Real Housewives” series, and Pat prefers working on his truck or watching something sci-fi. Or, I’ll blog while he cleans up from dinner, or, he’ll snooze while I fold laundry. Ah married life, it’s so sexy. We usually chat about our days, or organize the weekend’s activities. Maybe even watch a movie if we’re feeling wild LOL

9:00 pm I shower the night before work to save time in the morning. It also allows me to luxuriate and take my time with my skincare routine and hair prep.

9:30 pm In bed. I always read before bed…it relaxes my mind. I really try to avoid any screen time 30 mins before I go to sleep because I find it riles me up too much!

10:00 pm Asleep! Pray for me that Charlotte doesn’t wake up in the middle of the night. And hopefully I’m in a deep enough sleep I can’t hear my husband’s snores.

And there you have it! An exciting day in the life. I didn’t even realize I was so scheduled until I sat down to write…but you know what? It’s what keeps me sane!

Real talk: What’s your day-to-day like? Any life-saving tips for surviving through the morning/evening rush?

 

 

Garnier Nutrisse Challenge

Finding a little “me” time when you’re a parent is nearly impossible. Just when the baby is in bed and the house is quiet, your mind races to find 83185 things to do rather than just sit and relax. Take it from a formerly very high-maintenance girl, even getting your hair done is a challenge. (FYI- I would never subject the other ladies at the hair salon to a mischievous toddler or screaming newborn. Salon time is a sacred getaway that must be honored!)

That being said, when Garnier Canada reached out to me to take their Nutrisse Challenge, I was game! It’s been a few years since I’ve tried at-home colour, but I figured I’d give it a try. I didn’t want to alter my hair color too much because I love having the same blonde shade as Charlotte (babies have the best hair). So I opted for Nutrisse Cream in Extra-Light Neutral Blonde (#101) to cover up my new scary grey hairs and to refresh my natural highlights.

The whole experience was super easy! The rich formula blends avocado, olive and shea oils that smell fresh and doesn’t drip. The formula left me with nourished hair, better color and my hair didn’t feel dry or brittle after coloring. Plus, Garnier Nutrisse covered all my stubborn greys (damn you parenthood!) I love how the product picked up my existing highlights and made them even brighter and camouflaged my roots. The color lasts up to 8 weeks, so that can extend my time between salon visits.

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Before – Blonde streaked with grey and very dark roots
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After – Back to baby blonde with less roots, and 100% grey coverage!

Now it’s YOUR TURN!

Want to try out Garnier Nutrisse Nourishing Color Cream?Garnier Canada invites you to TRY IT, RATE IT, WIN IT. Visit their website HERE and sign-up to get your $2 off coupon. Then, tell them what you think of the product and you could win your next box of Nutrisse Cream.

REAL TALK: How do you take time for yourself? When’s the last time you colored your hair? Are you an at-home girl? Or do you prefer a salon? Tell me in the comments below!

“It’s Like Riding a Bike” + GIVEAWAY

After a 16-month work hiatus (thank you Canada for your generous maternity leave), I’m back at work. Everything is different, but everything is the same. It’s kinda like riding a back…a bit awkward at first, but fun once you find your groove.

The thing that takes the most getting used to is my morning routine! Instead of pressing snooze 3 times and dozing until the last possible minute, I’m up with my alarm and get ready before Charlotte wakes up. My lunch is made the night before and my outfit is already picked out. This has kept the morning as stress-free as possible. The hardest part of my new normal is seeing Charlotte for less than 3 hours during the day – 45 mins in the morning, and an hour and a half in the evening, if I’m lucky. There’s not enough time to get in all of my kisses and cuddles.

Since so much of our day is spent on the go – daycare drop-off, work commute, daycare pickup, home – I decided to upgrade my diaper bag to something that was functional and easy to lug around. Kiddycare reached out to me and I LOVE their backpack-style diaper bag. Featuring a wide top-opening, waterproof pockets, insulated front pouch and even tissue slots! It’s roomy enough that it holds everything for baby and me. And the backpack style lets me be hands-free to grab Charlotte when she tries to run away (yes, we’ve reached the “chase-me” stage).

Images from Kiddycare & @justjenp Instagram

Because I love this bag so much, I’m giving one away to my followers! Thank you Kiddycare for sponsoring this contest.

To enter:

  1. Follow @justjenp & Kiddycare on Instagram
  2. Turn post notifications on for @justjenp
    • Open my profile page, tap the triple-dot button in upper-right, tap Turn on Post Notifications.
  3. Like my latest picture
  4. Tag your mommy BFF
  5. Comment “DONE

Contest ends Sept 14 at 7PM. One winner will be chosen at random and given a code to receive their Kiddycare bag. Winner is responsible for any duties or shipping costs incurred. Open to Canadian & USA residents. Contest is no way sponsored, endorsed or administered by, or associated with Instagram.