Adventures in Breastfeeding

My breastfeeding story isn’t unusual. Before having a baby, I figured that you put the baby at the breast and the rest was nature taking over. WRONG! Never has something so natural, been so difficult! I struggled…a lot! I thought about giving up nearly every day. I cried, cursed, screamed. I spent hours googling remedies for sore breasts. I joined lactation groups, had my own lactation consultant and became obsessed with finding out how I could make my misery end.

Let’s go back to the beginning. One of the questions I was asked repeatedly while pregnant was whether or not I’d breastfeed. My mom breastfed my brother and I, and since she is my guru on all things baby, I knew that it was something I wanted to do. Plus I factored in all the research; breastfeeding protects baby from illness, allergies, SIDS, as well as boosting your child’s intelligence and reducing mom’s stress levels and risk for postpartum depression. But other than that, I didn’t know what I was in for.

Naturally, being the Type-A person that I am, I signed-up for a breastfeeding workshop where nurses demonstrated how to get a baby to latch (i.e. suck your nipple properly) with a knitted boob. “Sure,” I thought, “seems easy enough!” I followed this up by reading my mom’s “The Womanly Art of Breastfeeding” and felt like I would figure the rest out once baby arrived.

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#NormalizeBreastfeeding

At the hospital, in the post-partum recovery, a sweet nurse helped me breastfeed for the first time. She literally squashed my gigantic 40DD boob into my little one’s mouth. As your body isn’t really your own post-delivery, I went with the flow and was encouraged when she seemed excited that the baby had latched. But, holy shit was it painful! I chalked it up to being a first-timer and continued this painful experience every 2 hours because Charlotte was a hungry little hippo.

The real drama began once the pediatrician told us that Charlotte had a tongue-tie. This means that the piece of skin that attaches her tongue to the floor of her mouth is unusually short. This restricts the range of motion and was the culprit behind the pain. She doctor offered to cut it for us and two minutes later it was done. But the pain in my nipples and breasts continued and was joined by a blood blister, bruises, bleeding and cracks.

When the nurse visited us at home the next day, she was concerned. Not only was the tongue-tie not totally revised, she told us that Charlotte was also lip-tied. Again, the little piece of skin connected the lip to the gums is unusually short and thick and prevents babies from flaring their lips when they breastfeed. Why is this important? A flared lip is what allows the baby to take your nipple deeply into their mouths and suck without causing you pain. To fix this issue, the nurse recommended a laser revision by a pediatric dentist.

Pat and I balked. We didn’t want Charlotte to suffer and it seemed a bit barbaric. I resolved to “tough it out” but after a week, I was in constant pain. Because my nipples were being re-traumatized each time I breastfeed, I developed vasospams. After feeding, they would turn white and burn from the inside. Nothing seemed to help.

I started delaying feedings because I was fearful of the pain that I knew was to come. Charlotte had lost nearly 10% of her birth weight and wasn’t gaining as quickly as desired. I cried and winced each time she latched. The beautiful, tender loving moments between mother and child were non-existent. Instead, my baby was a little devil, intent on destroying me. I knew I couldn’t continue on like this, so I started going to a local breastfeeding clinic. The nurses were incredibly helpful and sympathetic. They showed me how to compensate for the lip and tongue-tie issues. They suggested doing breast compressions while feeding, changing my breastfeeding hold, taking vitamin D, calcium and magnesium for the vasospasms. All of this helped, but still, Charlotte’s latch issues remained.

Finally, after discussing with nearly every parent I knew, we decided to have the dentist do the laser revision. I was scared – what if it burned my baby? I was sad – why am I putting my needs before my child’s? But I was hopeful. If this could change our breastfeeding relationship and I could continue without pain, then I would do it.

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Poor Charlotte pre-laser surgery, screaming her brains out. But looking so cute in this sunglasses…

The surgery itself was 2 minutes. The most awful part were Charlotte’s screams and the post-surgery exercises I needed to do 6 times a day to guarantee that the skin didn’t grow back. That was traumatizing for both her and I. But thankfully, I noticed a difference in breastfeeding  almost immediately. She was able to open her mouth wider and my nipples began to heal. And over time it keeps getting better and better!

Like I said at the beginning of the blog, my story isn’t unusual. But for some reason, nobody talks about the difficulties. The pressure that new moms feel to breastfeed and love it, is tremendous. When issues arise, we’re reluctant to speak out and seek help because we are ashamed. We feel like we’re not good enough, that we don’t love our child enough to be able to provide for them. ALL FALSE! FED IS BEST. Whether breast or bottle, what matters is that you child is being fed and thriving. My story had the outcome I wanted, but had I decided to switch to formula, that would have been fine too.

Did you have trouble breastfeeding? I want to know! Share your stories & thoughts in the comments below.

 

Social Media Guru

I never knew what I wanted to be when I grew up. Being a Pisces, I have a tendency to dream big and get lost in fantasy. Over the years, my career goals have oscillated between actress, lawyer, psychologist, journalist, professional shopper, curator, party planner, and my personal favourite, matchmaker. Little did I know that I would end up working in a field that combined all the things I loved! Read on to learn about how I ended up working in social media!

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Starring in my Youtube segment “In Jen’s Closet”

The essence of social media is storytelling. It’s about finding out the story behind the person, place or thing. We are all curious creatures by nature; we love hearing stories from our friends when we catch up, we spend hours absorbed in TV and movies, and, we lose ourselves in stories from our favourite books. Why? Because stories gives us meaning and allow us to make sense of our own experiences. That being said, social media helps brands build a personality – through this “profile”, fans can identify what the brand stands for and what makes them tick, and this allows them to make sense of their own lives.

Phew – that was philosophical…back to me…

I’m a storyteller by nature. My flair for the dramatic and my incredibly extroverted personality have always served me well in this regard. I love to talk! Talk about my experiences, my feelings, my opinions…I could talk to a wall and have a perfectly lovely conversation. I also love to write. I’ve always put pen to paper (or fingers to keyboard) in one way or another. I’ve kept diaries, written short stories, blogged, wrote a thesis, written research papers, and short articles. And I’m a real “people” person. I love meeting new people, making new friends and I love nothing more than connecting people together. All of these skills have been useful once I started working in social media!

Back in 2011, I was working at Zara at a General Manager and hated my existence. The hours were long and I had a difficult time connecting with the corporate mandate. Coming from a small high-end boutique where I was the buyer/mananger/jack-of-all-trades, the hands-off approach of Zara really wasn’t for me. I missed people!

As I was searching for jobs in the fashion industry, I came across “online copywriter at fashion company” and immediatly applied. My BA in Art History and my freelance writing experience was exactly what they were looking for. Plus, the brand that I would work for, Addition Elle, specialized in 14+ fashion. Being the voluptuous fashionista that I am, I knew I would intrinsically understanding the needs and wants of the customer because I AM HER!

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On the set of “Jen’s Closet” doing my thing!

As companies began to acknowledge the power of social media, my role at Addition Elle grew. I was no longer simply writing product descriptions, I was focused on building the Addition Elle “tribe.” I looked for ways to connect with our audience, to surprise and delight them and to let them know that they weren’t alone in their plight for fashionable clothing in their size. I developed a segment called “In Jen’s Closet” where I offered fashion advice and outfit building suggestions. I launched the Addition Elle blog, curated the Instagram account and conceptualize viral campaigns with slogans like “Sorry, Not Sorry” and “No More Rules.”

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At Etail Canada, speaking on a panel about social selling

One of my proudest accomplishments was the work I did for the Addition Elle runway show at New York Fashion Week, especially directing the Facebook Live Stream event. (Sidenote – I was 4 weeks pregnant and had no idea!) I hosted the pre-show, interviewing models, hair & makeup and stylist, while coordinating the live coverage. The footage was actually used by Facebook as a case study for their live stream abilities. Very cool!

Over the last 6 years, Addition Elle’s social media presence has grown and become admired in the industry. We aren’t afraid to push the boundaries of what’s considered acceptable for plus size. I am so thankful to be part of a team that directly impacts people’s lives. Who knew that the little girl who used to pour over Vogue and wonder why nobody looked like her, would become the voice of a brand that seeks to empower the plus size community. As the “voice” of Addition Elle’s online presence, my own self-love has grown. To hear other plus size women share their stories and struggles and to see them unabashedly share their bodies on social media makes me feel proud to be part of this community.

Have a social media question? Want to know more about my career path? Ask away in the comments below!

 

Motherhood is Hard

It’s been a minute…sorry, I’ve been busy tending to my little nugget. Every day is a new challenge, a new lesson to learn and a new reason to fall deeper in love. I spent so much time leading up to Charlotte’s birth worrying about the actual birth process, that I think I neglected to realize the life changing reality of actually having a baby. Read on to see what I’ve learned during the first month of motherhood.

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Trying to stage a photo – Charlotte had other plans…
  1. Being a mom is physically demanding! Between the 24/7 breastfeeding and the hours of rocking my little Charlotte in my arms, being a new mom is hard on the body. My back aches, my boobs are swollen to the size of watermelons, my nipples look like old chewing gum and I wonder if I will ever sit comfortably again. My biggest mistake was not taking care of myself from the start. I thought I was doing the right thing to neglect my body in order to take care of my baby. Big mistake, HUGE! At week 5 I’ve finally clued in…back rubs from the hubby, therapeutic baths and face masks…here I come!
  2. No routine is the new routine. As someone who thrives on routine and organization, being flexible in my expectations and schedule is a huge adjustment. I’m so used to having places to go, and people to see, that to go with the flow is like taking a full-loaded freight train to a complete stop. Some days Charlotte wants to sleep all morning and others, she’s wide awake and crying. Learning to just let go and accept the day as it unfolds has been a mind-altering experience.

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    Tired AF, nursing non-stop, blotchy skin…but loving ever minute!
  3. Pinterest perfection is bullshit. Any mom-to-be will tell you that she has a baby board on Pinterest where she keeps all her inspiration – nursery, newborn photoshoot, baby “hacks.” I meticulously curated my gallery, clinging to picture-perfect ideals of what motherhood should be like. And it’s a lie, a big, giant lie! Motherhood is messy, chaotic, scary and confusing. Hundreds of so-called “experts” will advise you on how to get the perfect baby photos, what your baby sleep-schedule should be and how to get a rocking post-baby body. And it’s all garbage! Listen to you instinct, embrace the mess and let go of expectations – that’s when the little moments you treasure will happen.
  4. You will hate everyone but desperately need them at the same time. Surviving on 3 hours of sleep a night (if that) and listening to the ear-piercing screeches of a newborn has made me highly irritable. My tolerance for people is at an all time low. I want nothing more than to totally disconnect from the world…but at the same time, I can’t bear the thought of being alone. Motherhood is isolating and having people around (whether you can stand them or not) makes the day more enjoyable and less scary. Sometimes you just need to bounce your crazy thoughts off someone: “Is Charlotte’s breathing normal? Should I be worried she never burps? Are belly buttons supposed to look like that?”
  5. And most importantly, what I’ve learnt as a new mom is: motherhood is a secret club, where love and selflessness grants you access. My mom always warned me that when I had children, I would understand her devotion to us. Our joys were her joys and our sadness, her pain. She said that I would spend sleepless nights worrying about everything under the sun. And she promised that things that were once so important, would all seemed trivial compared to the bond between mother and child.  I didn’t know love like this until Charlotte’s little finger wrapped arond mine. I didn’t know I could survive without sleep, a hot shower, food and water until I rocked and rocked a sleepy (and very stubborn) baby to sleep for hours. Mom, you were right!

I know there’s more wisdom to learn as I embark on this adventure in parenthood – so please feel free to share your best bits of advice in the comments below!

#NoMakeup

I’ve never been one to embrace going “au naturel.” I can remember in 5th grade, BEGGING my mother to wear her old blue eyeshadow and clumpy mascara. I’ve done my hair and makeup every day since then. I’ve always found there was power in having your face “on,” especially working in fashion, where your “look” is everything and standards are high. Your style is your calling card and I’ve always rose  to the occasion. Until I got pregnant…

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Wearing the entire MAC store on my face at my baby shower

Once pregnant, I no longer had the energy to put into my normal routine. Every morning I would wake up with what felt like the worst hangover of my life and stare at the mirror and think “not this again!” I stopped blow-drying and styling my hair, opting instead for air-drying and signature hair-flip. I stopped wearing the bold lipstick I was known for, sticking to ultra-moisturizing lip balm. I stopped wearing primer, foundation, bronzer, blush, eyeshadow and brow gel. And you know what? For the first time in 20 years of wearing makeup, I liked what I saw.

Normally, I wouldn’t be caught dead in public with a bare face and bad hair. I hated my under-eye bags, my pale complexion, my forehead wrinkles and enlarged pores. I hated my limp, straight hair that looks greasy after 1 day. But, there was something about being full of life that changed my perception. I had a greater purpose than just my looks…I was going to be someone’s mom, someone’s everything. And it was that realization that gave me the boost of self-love I needed to go fresh-faced into the world.

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Makeup free and 37 weeks pregnant

Skin care became incredibly important to me during this time. Pregnancy had effed with my normally smooth complexion and gave me acne and a weird discolored patch of skin on my forehead. I tried a number of different skincare cocktails, but my favorite products were the following:

 

  1. Caudalie Vinosource Moisturizing Sorbet : Gel-cream that intensely moisturize and calms dehydrated, irritated skin.s1424266-main-Lhero.jpg
  2. CaudalieVinoperfect Concentrated Brightening Essence : Brightening essence that sweeps away dead skin cells to reveal brighter, smoother, more even skin.s1943026-main-Lhero

  3. Biotherm Aquasource Total Eye Revitalizer : Eye revitalizer to give eyes an awakened look.s1785120-main-Lhero
  4. Fresh Sugar Lip Treatment : Moisturizes, protects, and smooths the lips with a blend of moisture-preserving sugar and nourishing oils.s1148113-main-Lhero

I have not put on a stitch of makeup since the end of May when I started my maternity leave (that’s almost 8 weeks without makeup!) I’ve gone to restaurants, family events, the mall and doctor’s appointments with a bare-face and haven’t given it a second thought. Even though I’m suffering from severe sleep deprivation and haven’t showered in 3 days…I still feel as beautiful as I do with a face full of makeup. Maybe that’s because of the enormous smile that hasn’t left my face since little Charlotte Adele arrived in the world.

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My under-eye bags have bags and I’ve never been happier!

Do you wear makeup every day? Want to embrace the #nomakeup trend? Need some skin suggestions? Let’s talk about in the comments…

Dear Daddy…

Dear Daddy, Bet you’re surprised to hear from me since I’m only 2 weeks old! But, there’s some things that I want to say to you…

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Looking at my daddy at 2 days old

Daddy, I’m fairly new here, and almost every moment is a new experience for me. I know this is all brand new to you too, but you are doing everything that you should be.

When I first saw you, it was love at first sight. On the day I arrived into this world, you said my name and my big blue eyes looked into yours and I felt so lucky that you are my daddy.

Your voice and your hands, they let me know that everything was going to be ok in this scary new world. I just love to hear the sound of your voice. It’s comforting and soothing, and it lets me know you’re here.

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You are my cuddles and hugs, my snuggles and the best place for me to sleep. When you hold me skin-to-skin and rock me I feel safe, warm and loved.

You’re such a big help to mommy. You clean my icky diapers, you make sure mom has enough to eat and drink, you give the best baths and you play all my favourite music like the Beatles and Adele.

You’ve worked so hard to give me a beautiful house to come home to and all the gadgets you’ve installed keep me safe.

I know we’ve only known each other a short amount of time, but I know this love will last forever. I’m your little girl and I love you – no one can ever be who and what you are to me.

Happy 1st Father’s Day!

Love,

Your Coco-Bear

 

DIY Flower Initial

Welcome to crafting 101 with Just Jen! I’m no Martha Stewart, but I do enjoy DIYs, especially when they’re this easy.

When we set up the nursery, I knew we’d likely be moving in 3-6 months, so I didn’t want to create something too elaborate. I wanted unique touches that could easily be moved to new digs. This hanging DIY-flower initial is the perfect personal touch to your nursery. Here’s how to do it!

Materials:

  • Your choice of faux flowers
  • Corrugated cardboard
  • Hot glue gun
  • Initial stencil (I found mine here)
  • Ribbon
  • Acrylic paint & paintbrush
  • Scissors
  • Wood skewer

Instructions:

  1. Lay your initial stencil on the corrugated cardboard. Using a wood skewer, trace the outline by puncturing small holes. Cut out your initial with scissors. IMG_5892
  2. Paint your initial the color of your choice – or leave it blank if you prefer.IMG_5897
  3. Cut faux flowers from stem so only the bud remains.IMG_5895
  4. Using your wood skewer, puncture hole in corrugated cardboard and pop flower bud through.IMG_5900
  5. Hot glue the back of the hole and bud.IMG_5899
  6. Repeat until entire letter is covered with flowers. Add ribbon to hang.img_5905.jpgTah-dah! An easy and pretty DIY that perfect for any nursery, and beyond!

    Want to see more crafts? Let me know in the comments below!

 

Charlotte Adele

Introducing…Charlotte Adele

She arrived quickly on June 2nd, at 2:35PM. Weighing 7.1oz, 20.5cm long and completely stealing our hearts, our baby girl took only 6 hours to deliver! Read on for all the details…

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Our New Little Family – Charlotte at 1 Day Old

Our due date was May 30 and I was positive I was going to deliver on time (haha rookie move!) At my doctor’s appointment that day, she asked if I’d like to have my membranes stripped…for those uneducated in preggo-lingo, this is a more “natural” way to induce labor. The doctor gently separates the bag of water from the side of the uterus near the cervix (I totally just googled that). It basically feels like a ton of pressure on the inside but not painful, in my case anyway.

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Trying to relax in backyard at 40 week, 2 days

I spent the rest of the day walking, bouncing on my exercise balls, eating spicy food and hoping that labor could come soon. At this point, I was SO uncomfortable! It felt like a bowling ball was sitting on my pelvis! When labor didn’t come the next day, or the next, I was discouraged. The last thing I wanted was to be induced at the hospital. I felt down in the dumps and kinda flu-ish, so I spent the day on June 1st hanging out at home, watching Netflix and feeling sorry for myself.

At 5AM on June 2, I woke up thinking I peed myself – except I was pretty sure that I hadn’t lost ALL control yet…so I guess this is my water breaking?! When it continued to leak for the next hour, I was equally grossed out and excited! It was finally happening, baby girl was about to make her appearance.

Hubby insisted that I shower (because who knows when I would again) and have a bite to eat. I couldn’t sit still – the contractions began right after my water broke and they were already 7 mins apart! After calling the caseroom at the hospital, we called an UBER and off we went (poor Uber driver had no idea what was happening LOL).

It was important to me to have my mom with us in the delivery room – so she met us at the hospital once we got settled in around 8am. Then came the IV…I have a needle phobia so this was the part I was dreading the most (that and pooping on the delivery table – which I didn’t by the way, YAY!) My contractions were becoming more irregular at this point so the doctor suggested we start an oxytocin drip to speed things along a bit. And boy did it work! I started off at 2cm dilated at 8am, then 4cm by 10 am, and 6cm by 12pm. Needless to say, I was screaming for the epidural.

My regret was not asking for it sooner! I figured as a first time mom that my labor would be long and I thought that if I took the epidural too soon, it would wear off by the time I really needed it. NOPE, NOT TRUE! Ladies, if you want the drugs, get the bloody drugs. By the time the anesthesiologist got there, I was cursing like a sailor, ripping out my IV, and screaming “save me, help me!” Once the needle went in, it was bliss. Pain was bearable and I was ready for the next step.

I should pause here for a moment and mention that my husband was a complete champ. He was supportive, loving, calm and funny. We joked he was in charge of snacks, timekeeping and entertainment, but obviously his role was much more important. There’s something transformative about seeing someone you love so vulnerable and helpless. If possible, you love them even more for this sacrifice they are making for your family. He was so proud of me, and I wanted to show him how much I love him by bringing our baby into this world. I get all teary just thinking about it…

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Minutes after baby was born. Thank you Mom for being an excellent photographer and capturing this moment!

By 1:30pm, I was getting an intense desire to push. At first the feeling is a bit abstract – “how will I know I’m ready?” Trust me, YOU WILL KNOW! After 45 minutes of pushing, I could feel the excitement in the room. The nurses cheers were a little louder and Pat’s grip was a little tighter. Suddenly, the doctor yelled “Stop pushing!” Um, how do you stop a train going 100mph? The umbilical cord was so long that it had wrapped twice around the baby’s neck, so the doctor needed some slack to loosen it – which he did in one graceful move.

The rest is a blur. I remember looking down and there she was. My eyes were as wide as saucers! I couldn’t believe this perfect little creature had been inside of me the last 9 months. I didn’t cry, I was too shocked and trembling like a leaf (childbirth is traumatic!)

“Hi Charlotte, welcome to the world. I’m your mommy and this is your daddy, and we’re going to love you forever.”

Want to share your own story? Need someone to commiserate with? I’d love to hear from you! Send your comments below!

9 Months of Fashion

9 Months of Fashion – What I Wore During My Pregnancy

Today is my due date and no baby yet…We went to see the doctor this morning and she said there’s been progress so that’s a plus! We scheduled an induction for June 6, so hopefully baby comes on her own before then. I really don’t want medical intervention…but I guess I just need to be open to whatever happens. One way or another, baby is coming out in a week! Excited…scared…more as story develops. LOL

To distract myself from the impending birth, I want to talk about my most favoritest thing ever…FASHION! As you may know, I live for and work in fashion. And maternity clothes don’t exactly have the best reputation when it comes to being fashionable. But, with a few small tweaks, I survived 9 1/2 months of good outfits. Let’s countdown my favorite looks – month by month.

1 Month Pregnant

As revealed in my previous post, we didn’t know we were pregnant until about 5 weeks, so I had no clue I was expecting here. I just knew that I was SUPER tired, hot all the time and couldn’t bear the thought of pants!

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Jacket: Addition Elle / Dress: Zara (sold out – similar here) / Shoes: Zara (sold out – similar here)

2 Months Pregnant

At 8 weeks pregnant, I was on vacation for 2 1/2 weeks overseas. Our best friends live in the U.K and we planned a massive trip before we discovered baby girl’s arrival – London, Scotland and Iceland. (Blog post to come detailing how to survive traveling in your 1st trimester!)

I lived in super stretchy jeggings, running shoes, oversized sweaters and my leather jacket. My belly wasn’t showing, but I felt SO bloated so anything with stretch was my friend.

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Sunglasses: Celine / Jacket: Sly & Co / Sweater: H&M / Jeans: Addition Elle / Sneakers: Adidas Superstar / Bag: Gucci 

3 Months Pregnant

At 12 weeks, we revealed we were pregnant to friends and extended family (the core fam had the inside scoop). Although I didn’t have any morning sickness, I was beyond exhausted. I could sleep anywhere, anytime. It was also the Holidays, so I had to slap some lipstick on and get on with it. I borrowed this dress from my BFF Jamie and got rave reviews!

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Borrowed – similar here!

4 Months Pregnant

It was the dead of winter and comfort was key. My bump started to show around 16 weeks and I loved accentuating it. Leggings, oversized knits and cool blazers were a go-to during this period.

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Jacket: Addition Elle / Sweater: Gap (sold out – similar here) / Leggings: Addition Elle / Boots : Michael Kors

5 Months Pregnant

I live in Canada – it’s cold. That pretty much sums it up when you’re pregnant in January.

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Sweater: Old Navy (sold out – similar here)

6 Months Pregnant

Now it was really getting fun dressing up my bump. Athleisure was a cool way to add a touch of fashion to comfort. I’m wearing Asos Maternity and couldn’t be happier.

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Jacket: Asos (sold out – similar here) / Tank: Thyme Maternity / Leggings: Asos Maternity / Shoes: Steve Madden

7 Months Pregnant

They say the beginning of the third trimester is the best time to go on your babymoon – and we did! Pat and I headed to Las Vegas for some adult fun-time before baby. Loved this cold-shoulder bodycon dress. It had a ton of stretch, so I just sized up and it was perfect.

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Dress: Addition Elle / Shoes: Topshop

8 Months Pregnant

I LIVE in my jeans and was so happy to find cool, ripped ones with a maternity waistband. YAY! Pink is my fave color ever and this jacket is everything. Oh and a peplum top, while pregnant. Go for it!

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Jacket: Vintage / Top: Addition Elle / Jeans: Gap Maternity / Shoes: Vince Camuto (similar here)

9 Months Pregnant

At this point, I’ve pretty much given up on pants. Even high-waisted bottoms roll down under my belly, so bodycon dresses are a uniform. And stripes are an obsession, so this dress is in heavy-rotation.

So there you have it…9 months of maternity fashion. Fave looks? Questions? Fashion advice? Comment below!

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Dress: Asos Maternity (similar here)

Our Pregnancy Story

My mom recently told me a story about myself that I think is really telling.

From birth, my parents were determined to keep my upbringing very gender-neutral. They didn’t know I was a girl until I was delivered (I could have been Alexander), my room was cream and yellow and toys were mostly blocks or cartoon-like creatures. One day, I was playing in my mom’s closet and I came across the most beautiful sight I’ve ever seen, a brown-hair, blue-eyed Cabbage Patch kid doll, named Dolly. It had been purchased by a friend of my mom’s and she had kept it hidden because she truly believed that gender-neutral was best. But, for Dolly and I, it was love at first sight. I let out a blood-curdling scream “DOLLLLYYYYYY” and my mom promptly burst into tears. How could she have kept me from my one true happiness?!

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Baby Jen at 10 months – always on her cell phone LOL

It was clear from an early age that my maternal instincts were highly-developed. There was never a question in my mind of whether or not to have kids – it was only when will it happen?

After Pat and I got married in 2013, I was keen to start a family ASAP. Even though my husband wanted children, he wasn’t ready. He had just started his career as an electrician and work wasn’t steady. I was working hard at my own career and moving quickly ahead but hours were long. In our first year of marriage, Pat’s father was diagnosed with Stage 4 stomach cancer and he left us after a brave year long battle. It was devastating! For Pat and I, too much uncertainty and such sadness meant putting kids on hold.

In retrospect, I’m so glad we did. It allowed both of us to grow up and grow together. Going through such a profound loss bonded us closer than ever and our relationship flourished. Yes, there were some really shitty times that were extremely difficult, but those moments were always learning experiences that taught us how to communicate and how to appreciate each other’s flaws.

Then, one day, in January 2016, as we were driving home from our yearly Florida vacation, Pat turned to me and said “I have a vision for us. By  next year, we will have a baby.” I was shocked and elated. We quickly made plans to start trying after our 3 year wedding anniversary – May 18, 2016.

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Somewhere on I-95 – driving home from Florida

I was nervous though. I was overweight and had been on birth control for 11 years. Could I even get pregnant? I’d heard so many stories from so many women about how difficult it was to get pregnant (and stay pregnant). My heart went out to them…when you want something so bad, don’t you sometimes feel like you’ll never get it? I was almost afraid to say that I wanted kids outloud because I felt like the universe would curse me for being vocal.

Then, one day, about 3 months after stopping the pill and trying to get pregnant, I felt off. It felt like I was about to get my period (cramps, exhaustion, tender breasts) but it was nowhere in sight. I wrote it off to stress and being busy traveling (I was just coming back from my second New York Fashion Week, followed by a business trip to Chicago). On a whim, I bought a 2-pack of pregnancy-tests and while Pat and I awaited the results, we held our breaths…low and behold, it was positive. Pat ran over to the test first and I’ll never forget the look in his eyes when he turned to me to tell me it was positive – he looked so proud and happy. I was pregnant!

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At New York Fashion Week 2016. I was 3 weeks pregnant and didn’t know it!

Our pregnancy story is a relatively simple one. I have no words of wisdom for women that are struggling with infertility, except that my heart is with you and I’m rooting for you. I am always here to talk to if you ever need a listening ear. There’s not one thing I did that improved my chances over anyone else’s. Call it fate, say it’s the universe, or that the timing was right…whatever it was, things worked out for us. I feel very lucky and a little guilty.

Thoughts? Comments? Want to swap stories? Send me a note below!

XXX

Jen

The Story of Jen

Wow, so I’ve finally done it! After years of saying “when I have my own blog…” I’ve pulled the trigger and committed to capturing my life via WordPress. Why was it so difficult to do? After all, I create content for a living and basically live my life online, but there’s something intimate in writing from an “I” perspective, instead of the neutral, corporate tone I’ve come to adopt. This blog is a place where you can get to know me, the real me, and that’s a little scary (but also exciting!)

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Hey guys, here I am!

Let’s back it up and allow myself to introduce…myself. LOL

I’m Jen, 32 years young, living in the suburbs of Montreal, Canada, with my amazing husband and our two cats, Titi and Oscar. I’m currently pregnant, and expecting a baby girl any day now (due date is May 30th).

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Pat and I announcing our pregnancy right before Christmas

I work for a fashion company, as their Digital Content and Communications Manager. So yes, my job can be glamorous; I’ve produced two New York Fashion Week runway shows, traveled extensively, rubbed shoulders with celebs and enjoyed free swag. But, it’s also down-to-earth; I get to connect to the clients and talk about their needs and wants, their likes and dislikes and have no problem schlepping 5 garment bags through the city while wearing heels. I sincerely love my job, but after working there for 6 years and being married for 4…I was ready for the next step.

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Interviewing Ashley Graham at a NYFW Runway Show in 2016 (little did I know I was about 4 weeks pregnant…) You can see the full clip here

So, Pat and I decided to have a baby (I will dedicate a post to our pregnancy story soon, I promise!) And it got me thinking…I’ve been so focused on myself, my career, my marriage, my wants…could I remain true to myself while having a baby? Can I still be ME and a mom? What parts of me will change? What parts will stay the same? I hope to explore all of this as I blog and would love to have you along for the ride!

I want my blog to be like your most trusted girlfriend – the one that gives you the real deal. Yes, I want to inspire but I also need the real talk because life ain’t always roses and sunshine, right? I want my blog to be honest, down-to-earth and reflect the realities of juggling all the parts of myself – like being a new mom, an intelligent woman, loving wife and full-time fashonista. I want to combine all the things I love into happy place.

Welcome aboard, new and old friends – so glad you came by and can’t wait for us to get to know eachother better. I’d LOVE your feedback, so feel free to share your comments! And of course, you can always find me on Insta @justjenp.

XXX

Jen