The First Day of Daycare

The day has come. I dropped Charlotte off at daycare this morning and felt like my heart was ripping out. I’m a pretty emotional person and a major crier, so it’s no surprise that my reaction has been extreme. But let’s start at the beginning so I can fully explain how I feel about daycare and how everything went down.

Pat and I both work and we love working. We’re both ambitious people and strive to be successful at whatever we do. Plus, we live pretty nicely so there was no question that I was going to give all of that up by reducing one salary. When we first starting thinking about childcare, we strongly considered a nanny. I grew up with nannies that I adored (Hi Kate, Hi Mary Ellen!) and I loved the idea of Charlotte being at home, in a safe and familiar environment. However, the cost of the nanny was unfeasible (even with government help) and Charlotte is a little social butterfly and loves being around other kids and adults.

 

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In fact, the thing that has had me the most stressed about daycare isn’t how Charlotte will react. When we visited the daycare, she was happy to go play with the other kids, and took a real liking to her daycare educator. What I’ve been most worried about is ME! The thought of someone other than family taking care of Charlotte freaks me out and has my anxiety in full blown panic mode. What if she hurts herself and I’m not there to soothe her? What if she needs a cuddle and the educator is busy with another kid? When you’re used to being available to your child 24/7, it’s hard to imagine them being OK without you. And selfishly, I want her to miss me. I want her to need me the most, because I need her the most.

Don’t get be wrong, it’s important for kids to be independent and learn how to soothe themselves. And to know that Mommy won’t always be there in the tough moments. But, I want Charlotte to love me the most and part of my anxiety stems from the question of whether she’ll like her new educators more than me. Crazy right? I didn’t say it was rational…

So this is how the first day of daycare went down. Last night, Charlotte decided she wanted to be awake and running laps in her crib from 11pm-2am. Perhaps she had picked up on Mommy’s anxiety? And then she woke up at 6:30am this morning. We were already in trouble before the day even began! Hubby was at work by 6am, so I got Charlotte up, dressed and fed and we headed over to the daycare around 9am. I was a bundle of nerves! My hands were shaking…I couldn’t figure out how the code to the daycare door worked. I could feel my anxiety growing and growing and didn’t want it to rub off on Charlotte.

When we got there, they were serving snack and Charlotte immediately was entranced. She literally sat right down at the table, stole another kid’s sippy and started to eat. I was trying not to cry and embarrass myself! I don’t even remember saying goodbye to her because I was so flustered. The rational part of me knows I’m doing what is best for her and our family, but the emotional part has completely taken over and all I can think about is: “Does she understand that I’m coming back?” But because she seemed so happy there, I exited quickly. The daycare educator assured me that she’d call if there was anything.

On the drive home, I was a wreck! But I knew that Charlotte was fine. I was so surprised to get a call from the daycare saying that she had been crying. Mom’s intuition kicked in right away…her crappy night and early morning meant that I had a tired little nugget on my hands. So 2 hours after dropping her off, I was picking her up and let me tell you…she was has never been happier to see me. She was so happy that her smile went immediately to big tears. Oh my heart! As I whisked her away to nap at home, her little arms clung to my neck and I no longer felt like an emotional wreck. I felt strong and capable. Nothing makes you get over yourself faster than when your kid needs you. Period.

We’ll try the same routine tomorrow. Dropoff around 9am and pickup before naptime. Hoping she can do 3 hours, and then 4, and then nap, and then a full day. Tomorrow will get a little easier, and the next day even easier. So glad that we survived day #1 and that you were all there to share it with me. Thank you to everyone who shared their experience with me. It’s so comforting to know that I’m not alone and that this is a milestone all working moms have to conquer.

REAL TALK: How was daycare transition for you? Was it rough? A breeze? Share you thoughts & experiences below!

Plus Mommy Podcast

You know when you meet someone and you just feel like you’ve known them forever? That’s how I felt when I “met” Jen McLellan, aka Plus Mommy, aka the plus size pregnancy guru. Jen and I connected through Tess Holliday, plus size model/author/mom, when we organized an informal Instagram live chat about postpartum anxiety (Tess and I both suffered from PPA). And how do I know Tess? Through my work, of course. Phew! That’s a lot of background info!

Anyways, Jen has a super fabulous podcast called “The Plus Mommy” which covers topics around plus size pregnancy. Her website, Plus Size Birth, provides positive resources for plus size people who are trying to conceive or pregnant – form where to find plus size maternity clothes to connecting with a size-friendly care provider and so much more!

I was beyond thrilled when Jen asked me to come on her podcast to chat about my experience – from conception, to pregnancy, to delivery and postpartum. It honestly felt like chatting with an old friend. I’ve talked about my pregnancy experience HERE, but it was interesting to examine it through the lens of a plus size woman.

Video courtesy of Plus Mommy

I could transcribe the entire podcast here because it’s too fantastic to not share, but I’ll save it for the sound byte.

You can listen to Jen & I chat HERE. Scroll down to the bottom for audio.

You can also listen on ITUNES!

 

Real Talk: Did you have a plus size pregnancy? What were some of the misconceptions you had?

 

Naptime; When 2 Becomes 1

Ah naptime…the bane of my existence as a mom. Too much, too little, too early, too late…it’s a tricky negotiation that leaves me anxiety-ridden most of the time. Nothing has proved more complicated than transitioning Charlotte from two naps to one. So many of you have asked for Charlotte’s nap schedule, so here’s the breakdown!

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Charlotte’s sleep sack is from a wonderful local-Montreal company called Aiden & Aston. They make beautiful organic children’s clothing!

Around 11 months, she started fighting her afternoon nap. I would put her down at 1pm, like normal, and it would take her 2 hours to fall asleep. Then, she’d nap for so long that I would have to wake her so as to not interfere with her night sleep (around 4pm). The next day, it’d be a crapshoot…she’d either skip her morning nap all together, or catnap. Then skip the afternoon nap, or take forever to fall asleep. I knew it wasn’t teething (no signs), so I started capping the morning nap. Charlotte usually sleept 2 hours in the morning and then 1.5 in the afternoon, so I started to shorten the morning nap so that I could lengthen the afternoon one. By 12 months, she was sleeping an hour in the morning and 1.5 in the afternoon. But still, the morning nap was on-again-off-again.

The recommendation is to keep trying for 2 naps a day until baby is 15 months, but my child gave me all the signs that she was ready to try to switch to 1. I asked friends, sleep consultants and the internet and most moms conceeded that they just followed their child’s lead. And if she was showing more than a few signs that she was rejecting the morning nap, to try giving it up and see what happened.

So eventually, I took a leap of faith and gave up the first nap. It was a rocky few days! Charlotte usually wakes at 6:30-7am and couldn’t be awake longer than 5 hours. Her nap would start at 11am and last about 3 hours, then I’d compensate with an early bedtime. I gradually pushed back naptime to 11:15, then 11:30, then 11:45, 12:00, etc., until we got to 12:30. I find she’ll nap longer when I put her down at 12:30, at 1PM she’s overtired. Who knew 30 mins can make all the difference?!

There are days where napping doesn’t go as planned. Charlotte is cutting 2 molars and 2 canines at the same time, so her napping (and night sleep) has been all over the place! When she wakes up at 5:30am, I will put her down for a nap at 9am, but I’ll cap it at an hour. And even then, I don’t do it every day because the extra nap affects her night sleep. She’ll wake up in the middle of the night and it’ll take hours for her to fall back asleep. Not good!

By 14 months, she’s doing one 2-3 hour nap, 5 days out of the week. This makes me so happy because she’s starting daycare at the end of August and her schedule mirrors the daycare’s. I’m hoping it’ll allow for an easier transition for all once she starts. I LOVE the 1-nap-a-day schedule! It gave us so much more freedom in our day, and guaranteed that she’d sleep for at least 2 hours. This was WAY better than staring endlessly at the baby monitor, praying that she’d just lie down and relax. And having big chunks of time to myself is also enormously helpful to my self-care. I can eat, nap, blog, do a load of laundry, even read, while she sleeps. It’s made the summer very enjoyable.

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REAL TALK: When did your child transition to 1-nap-a-day? Was it easy or difficult to get them on a new schedule? Let me know in the comments below!

 

5 Perfect First Birthday Gifts

Charlotte’s birthday was a day to remember. You can read all about it HERE. It was a celebration of our family and a giant party to celebrate the fact we survived 365 days as first time parents.

One of the questions I get asked the most when I mention that my daughter is a year-old is; what are some great first birthday gift ideas? My favorite gifts for Charlotte were the ones that were personalized, unique or perfect for her developmental stage. Here are my 5 favorite first birthday gifts.

  1. A personalized book. Hands-down, Charlotte’s favorite toys are books. She’ll pick one out of her vast library and flip the pages, pointing to the pictures. It’s the cutest thing ever! As you may know, I’m quite the bookworm (see my current reading list here), so I’m thrilled that Charlotte is following in my footsteps. For Christmas this year, my parents made her a customized book and it’s adorable. Charlotte’s name and our family’s names are peppered through the book, and the main characters are bears – how perfect! (My husband’s nickname is Bear, and we’ve become known as the Bear family – mama, papa, baby).

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    Picture credit: Wonderbly. A Letter for the Littlest Bear $39.99
  2. An engraved baby bracelet. Is there anything cuter than a baby girl wearing jewelry? My mother-in-law gifted Charlotte with a beautiful engraved baby bracelet that I can’t wait for her to wear. Her little wrists are still a bit skinny, and she still chews on everything, so I may hold off for a bit, but I love the heirloom feeling of it.

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    Birks Baby Silver Bar Bracelet. Available at Birks. $95.
  3. Baby’s first bicycle. Of course my summer baby had to have a bike to ride. One is a great time to introduce baby to bicycle. My brother, the biking aficionado, picked the Little Tikes Ride ‘N Learn because it’s a 3-in-1 that converts as your baby grows. Plus, there’s a removable and adjustable waist bar (that keeps baby on the bike) and a foot rest so they can learn to pedal and steer while feeling secure.

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    Look at her little face! She is so proud of herself! Riding her new trike. Available on Amazon. $99.99
  4. Baby’s first year photo album. Bubbie for the win! My mom loves created photo albums (she made our engagement album, and wedding album because I never got around to doing it!). She decided to surprise us for Charlotte’s birthday with a highlight reel of the last year. She told me the hardest part was narrowing down the pictures. There are so many different companies that do this, but you can’t go wrong with Shutterfly.

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    I will treasure this photobook forever! Get it HERE. Prices from $19.99
  5. A wildlife adoption. For the baby who has everything, I love the idea of donating something in their honor. Charlotte is obsessed with animals, so the WWF was the perfect place to donate. They even have “adoption” packages that come with a stuffed animal. I was at a bday party for Chalotte’s bff Evelyn and she received the Caribou

     

Honorable mention goes to this great idea from my friend Samantha. For Father’s Day, she created a custom book for her daughter that featured pictures and names of the most important people in her daughter’s life.

 

Real talk: What did you buy your child for their first birthday? Did you do something small and symbolic? Or did you go over-the-top?

The End of the Journey

I weaned Charlotte off the boob last week. The end.

Ah, if only it was that simple. Breastfeeding hasn’t been an easy journey. You can read about it HERE and HERE. And the decision to stop nursing Charlotte didn’t come lightly, or quickly. Here’s how it all went down…

At around 11 months and some change, Charlotte had her first nursing strike. At that point, she was only nursing twice a day – when she first woke up in the morning and at night before bed. I loved it! It was our cuddle time together and a slow start to the morning and the perfect wind-down to the day. But, out of nowhere, she refused to latch for more than 5 seconds and would even push my breast away and arch her back when I tried to snuggle her in close! I was offended at first, then doubted myself, then sad. I felt like I had failed her in some way and failed as a mom. And I certainly wasn’t ready at that point to let breastfeeding go!

11 months into motherhood, I had a bit of experience under my belt, so I knew that Charlotte’s nursing strike was temporary and that she’d soon be back to her twice a day feeds. And I was right. A few days later, she was back at it, like nothing had happened. Not long after, I noticed her gums were swollen and red. Teething was back with a vengeance…and this time it was the dreaded molars!

So we continued along with our twice-a-day nursing sessions, until about two weeks ago, when she absolutely refused to have anything to do with am/pm cuddles and my boobs. She actually started crying when I tried to put her to the breast. She would flail her little body around, smacking me in the face with her hands and kicking me in the stomach. It was very annoying. And it was precisely because I was so annoyed that I decided to stop nursing her cold turkey.

When we started nursing, I’d “check in” with myself every 3 months for a little status update – was this still working for me? For Charlotte? And as time went by, breastfeeding got easier and easier. We developed a rhythm that structured our day. Truth is, I would have continued for another year if it wasn’t for her strike.

I know for a lot of moms, weaning their child can be an emotional experience. And part of me is sad that my little baby has taken a step away from me and towards independence. But, that also makes me a little happy and a little proud. Charlotte feels confident and secure enough in herself to self-soothe and knows she is getting my love and comfort from other venues than just my breasts.

There are some negatives to weaning… My once-full breasts are now hanging lower and feel like semi-deflated balloons. Also, putting her to sleep for the night has become a bit tougher because she doesn’t have as much wind-down time from bath to bed. And she’s WAY more energetic in the mornings than she used to be, which means mama is doing double-shots of espresso in the AM.

I have been giving her a bottle of breastmilkd before bed of my breastmilk. I have saved up quite the stash when I used to pump before bed and in the middle of the night. And tonight, it’s my last bag of milk. So as I close this chapter of our breastfeeding journey, I start a new one – one that will see Charlotte transition from wide-eyed infant to curious toddler. I’m so exciting to see what’s to come.

P.S. I’m so glad I captured these nursing moments when she was 5 weeks old. The way that I’m looking at her gets me so emotional every time I look at these pictures!

 

 

REAL TALK: When did you wean your little one? Was it emotional? Or was it just the next step? Tell me in the comments below!

MegaBabe Review

For as long as I can remember, my thighs have touched each other. It never bothered me much in the winter (long pants and tights eliminated that uncomfortable sticky feeling), but in the summertime, it was a pain! Anyone with thick thighs will sympathize; there is nothing worse than the feeling of your sticky, sweaty thighs rubbing against each other, leaving you with red, rashy bumps. This affliction is affectionately known as chub rub.

 

For years I avoided shorts, and skirts in the summer, preferring to stick to capris or maxi dresses that I could wear shorts underneath. But with the sweating hot summers we’ve been having in recent years, I’ve said SCREW THAT! I’m all about short shorts & sun dresses. Now, this creates a dilemma – what about my sticky thighs? I’ve tried everything from deodorant, chamois cream (what bikers use on their bums to eliminate chafe), baby powder, coconut oil…none of them work!

Enter Megababe. Brainchild of fellow curvy fashionista Katie Sturino (the12ishstyle), this thigh chafe stick is THE BOMB!

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Pic credit: Megababe. Buy the Thigh Rescue Anti-Chafe Stick HERE!

Here are the pros of this product:

  • Glides on invisibly and smoothly.
  • Smells amazing! The ingredients include aloe, pomegranate & grape seed oil.
  • Soothes skin with cooling and anti-inflammatory properties.
  • Left me chafe-free on the sweatiest of days (It was 46C with humidity).

The only con is that I had to re-apply a few times throughout the day because of the amount of sweat I was producing. But, I did use it on a milder day and found that I only had to reapply once. So, keep it in your purse and you’ll be fine!

Because I had to pay for shipping from the US, I decided to try out the Megababe Bust Dust too. Boob sweat is gross and smelly and sticky, so this fine powder made of bacteria-fighting lavender and soothing camomile is the ticket! I’d totally recommend this to all my big-booby friends.

Pros:

  • Again, smells amazing!
  • Prevent rash in the cleavage and underwire.
  • I also use it under my post-baby-belly-overhang and it keeps me feeling fresh and dry.

The con here is that it’s somewhat messy to use. I couldn’t figure out how to spray just a little, it would come out as a big blob of powder. But, once I smeared it around, it was fine.

So thanks Megababe, for keeping me chafe-free all summer long! I will be shouting my love for these products from the rooftops!

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Wearing shorts and chafe-free, thanks to Megababe! Shorts & top: Walmart (I know right?!)

 

Summer Reading List

I am a self-proclaimed bookworm. I rather read a book than watch TV and the novel is certainly ALWAYS better than the movie. As a kid, my summers were spent under a shady tree reading or biking to the library to load up on books. And now as an adult, let’s just say that I’ve spent more time (and money) than I’d like to admit at Chapters-Indigo.

Now that  Charlotte is transitioning from 2 naps to 1, and sleeping in 2-3 hour chunks, I seem to have more time to get things done and squeeze in some leisure time for myself! Reading is one of the ways that I can slow down and reconnect with myself. It helps me keep my #MamaMojo full! My book devouring took a bit of a hiatus over the last year as an early bedtime and catching up on sleep has trumped reading before bed. But there’s something about summer that makes me want to sit outside and enjoy a great book.

My favorite genre for summer reading are murder/mystery/suspense. But I also love biographies and memoirs about people overcoming adversity (or as my BFF calls it blunty; “really messed up people”), and I adore historical fiction (anything by Ken Follett or Philippa Gregory).

So here are some of the books I’ve read over the summer or are up on my reading list next! Please send me your summer reading recommendations; I love a good book.

Murder/Mystery/Suspense

In a Dark, Dark Wood, by Ruth Ware. I finished this book in 2 days! A who-did-it that flips between past and present as you try to figure out what happened in the woods.

Luckiest Girl Alive, by Jessica Knoll. I’ve actually read this twice, years apart, without realizing because it’s so good and I had forgotten the twist-ending. Sharp, dark and twisted!

 

I’ll be Gone in the Dark, by Michelle Mcnamara. Half part non-fiction, half part modern crime thriller.

The Perfect Nanny, by Leila Slimani. Absolutely terryfing as a parent!

The Book of M, by Peng Shepard. Picked this up the other day because I loved the combo of sci-fi and mystery.

Non-Fiction

Educated, by Tara Westover. A stunning memoir about family, loss and the desire for a better future. If you loved Glass Castle, you’ll love this!

The Home for Unwanted Girls, by Joanna Goodman. The story of an unwed mother seperated from her daughter and the lengths they go to find eachother.

Hillbilly Elegy, by J.D. Vance. A look at the struggles of America’s white middle class.

 Brain on Fire, by Susanah Cahalan. I read this so fast too! It’s about a woman’s struggle to recapture her identity after a traumatic brain infection.

 

On the Lighter Side…

The Nest, by Cynthia D’Aprix Sweeney. Currently reading and loving it. It’s about a family with a substantial “nest egg” and their dysfunction.

Crazy Rich Asians, by Kevin Kwan. I love all of Kevin Kwan’s books. They’re funny, name-dropping, pure entertainment about very very rich people and their families.

She Regrets Nothing, by Andrea Dunlop. Think Gossip Girl meets Great Gatsby. Waiting for this to become a movie or TV show.

The People We Hate At the Wedding, by Grant Ginder. The title sums it up – a fabulous wedding is about to take place and the cast of family characters and their drama is even more fabulous!

 

REAL TALK: What are you reading this summer and loving? Send me your book recommendations!