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!

Happy First Birthday, Charlotte

June 2, 2018. After months of planning, the big day arrived so fast! I spent so much time and love setting up the house for our cat-themed birthday party for Charlotte. I had originally wanted to hire a party planner, caterer, send out 150 invitations and have pony rides for her birthday, but my husband talked me down off the ledge. Instead I opted for a smaller at-home gathering with close friends and family.

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Wearing the Fuchsia Rose Print Wrap Maternity Maxi Dress from Pink Blush in a size L. The fabric is super stretchy, so I sized down.

My maxi dress is one of my all-time favorite & most flattering silhouettes from Pink Blush. I wore a very similar dress for my baby shower and felt like a goddess. The 3/4 sleeve and wrap neckline was so easy to wear; I didn’t have to worry about tugging or pulling anything up. It’s vibrant print and flowy fabric kept me looking cool even though I was sweating from all the stress of throwing baby’s first birthday. It’s one of my new wardrobe staples and will look fantastic with a baby bump as a maternity dress, or post-baby as a nursing dress, or simply looking like a babe as an everyday maxi dress.

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The Birthday Girl herself in a onesie that says “I’m not kitten, I’m one.”

Like I said, it was a cat-theme for our Charlotte Adele Trottier (get it? C.A.T?) so I used ever pun I could think of…”let’s pawty,” “I’m not kitten, I’m one,” “Happy purrr-thday.” I also decorated with little cartoon cat faces, cat ears and pink and gold everywhere. I created a sweet table with a candy bar, cupcakes and a kitty cat cake and served pink lemonade.

They say it takes a village to raise and child and each person at the party had a big role to play in our lives during the last year. We’re so thankful for all the love and support. Charlotte is such a lucky girl to have so many wonderful people that love her so much!

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Kitty cat cake & cupckes. As delicious as it looks!

 

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Nothing beats a sweet table!
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Instead of traditional goodie bags, we did a “kitty adoption center” where kids could choose their own cat, name them & fill out details about them. Then, each kid got to take home their own stuffed kitty.
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The set-up for the cake smash where you can see the photobooth in the background.

All photos by Sandra Milioto. She is my fave Montreal family photog!

Decor: Amazon, DIY & Etsy (invites, kitty adoption center)

Charlotte’s headband is by Lily Love Creations, Tutu is by Bluishshoes are Kate Spade for Keds

Thank you Julie Kelertas for the cake & cupcakes. They were delicious & adorable!

Thank you Keikanne & Kareem for the birthday onesie!

REAL TALK: What was your child’s first birthday like? Did you go all out or opt for something more low-key? Let me know in the comments below!

Reflections on the First Year

Oh hi there! Have you missed me? Sorry I’ve been quiet but I’ve been busy planning the event of the year…Charlotte’s first birthday! I am in awe that my little nugget turns ONE of June 2. If you need a refresher of my birth story…read here.

I have a few outfits planed for various pre-bday celebrations for Charlotte, but this is the one I keep coming back to. I discovered Pink Blush while I was pregnant and absolutely loved the style and fit of their clothes. The maternity clothes showed off my growing bump, were feminine and actually COOL. Many of their pieces can be worn post-baby too, like this gorgeous floral kimono. So far this week, I’ve thrown it on over everything from jeans and a tee, to a sundress. I plan on wearing a printed maxi at Charlotte’s actual birthday tomorrow, so look forward to that post!

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This maternity kimono is so pretty! It’s lightweight, sexy and super feminine. I’m wearing an XL. It’s from my absolutely favorite online shop Pink Blush Maternity.

I never believed when other parents would say “they grow up so fast” but here we are in the blink of an eye. I still remember so vividly the feeling of Charlotte’s little hands grabbing my finger for the first time, then the warmth of her body when they put her on my chest and the smooth, fuzziness of her skin…sorry getting lost in thought (and in tears over here).

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How Charlotte and I spent the first 3 months together

I said to my husband the other day that I wish I could go back and do it all over again, just to be able to spend more time with her as a wee little baby. I tried the best I could to savour each moment with her, to be present in the moment and cement it in my mind. But as she grows and changes, new memories and moments take their place and memories of her lying on my chest, or falling asleep in my arms drift further and further away.

Growing up is bittersweet. Seeing your baby take a first step is momentous and exciting, but it also takes her one step further from being carried everywhere by mommy. Just one of the many opposite thoughts I’ve had as a mommy in the last year.
Speaking of mommies…The other day, in my mommy group, we went around in a circle and each woman shared what motherhood meant to her.

Here’s what I said:

“Motherhood is like a piece of your heart existing outside of your body. You entire happiness is wrapped up in one little person.”
“Motherhood is a secret society that I’ve been initiated into. Our secret handshake are the bags under our eyes and the love in our hearts for our kids.”

And you can definitely quote me on that!

Stay tuned for a post with all the birthday details…gotta go, still lots of decorating to do!

REAL TALK: How do you feel about your kid growing up? Does it make you want to cry? Or, does it make you excited for what’s to come next?

A Tale of Two Teeth

How did I not know that teething was a major milestone?! It’s not that I didn’t know that baby get teeth, I just didn’t realize what a disruption it would be to our fledging routine.

Seemingly, out of nowhere, at 3 months, Charlotte started drooling as if someone had left a tap running and shoving anything possible into her mouth. I was in total denial! She was much too young to start teething – don’t babies get teeth at 6 months? WRONG! By 4.5 months, Charlotte has her 2 bottom teeth and is working on the top two. Talk about an early over-achiever!

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Obsessed with this picture because you can see her little tooth poking out the bottom!

How did I survive? Good question…I’m still learning how to! But there are a couple of strategies that have helped us feel more in control and ease Charlotte’s discomfort. Because teething is PAINFUL for babies (and parents!) Any adult who has ever had dental work can sympathize. Now imagine not being able to express your discomfort. Fun times! Teething babies are whiney, fussing messes and their sleep becomes disrupted and irregular. Some babies are just more sensitive than others. Charlotte happens to be extremely teething sensitive.

  1. ADVIL. Invest in industrial amounts of pediatric Advil drops. Teething pain is due to the inflammation of the gums. Tylenol will not help ease the pain – stick to Advil instead as it’s an anti-inflammatory. And make sure you are dosing correctly.
  2. Teethers. There are a million and one teethers out there. After much trial and error, Charlotte was devoted to one – Sophie la Girafe. There’s something about the big black eyes and the smooth, rubbery skin that kids go crazy for! Also, since she grabs EVERYTHING and put it in her mouth (including my hair, fingers, shirt, etc), I tried out teething jewelry and Charlotte loved it. I got a cute necklace and bracelet set from my friends at Tic Tac Bow Kids. They are 100% silicone, non-toxic, BPA free and can go in the dishwasher. Plus, they actually look cool. Winning!

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    Wearing a Teething Necklace & Bracelet from Tic Tac Bow
  3.  Camilia teething drops. Some people swear by this homeopathic liquid, others find it doesn’t work. I’m somewhere in the middle. On it’s own, I found no effect, but paired with Advil, it helped with the liquid poop aspect of teething (oh yes, this happens!)
  4. Drool bandanas. SO. MUCH. DROOL! The front of any outfit was immediately soaked through. I find traditional bibs unattractive, but a bandana bib – that’s perfect for my little fashionista! Plus, she likes to chew and suck on it. Tic Tac Bow hooked me up with their adorable drool banada set – it’s soft, with nubby-fleece lining on against baby’s skin and cute pattern on the outside. And of course, matching bow and teether comes with!

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    Always moving too fast for a pic! Bow, bandana and teether trio HERE

With 2 down and 18 more to go, we are bidding our time and bracing ourselves for the next teething phase. Most of parenting is about learning on the fly. I guess we feel moderately well-equipped to deal with what’s coming, but you never know…the next 2 teeth could be a small blip on the radar, or a giant cranky explosion. Only time will tell!

To celebrate Charlotte’s 2 teeth and her 5 month birthday, I teamed up with my friends at Tic Tac Bow for a contest! Click HERE for all the details!

 

Learning to Sleep

“To sleep, perchance to dream – ay, there’s the rub.”

Any mother with an infant knows what Shakespeare was talking about. After carrying a tiny being inside of you for 9 months and going through labor and childbirth, all a mom wants to do is sleep. She deserves a nap, at least! But between round the clock feedings, 100s of diaper changes and learning how to care of a demanding little human, there’s no rest for new mommies.

As I mentioned in a previous post, sleeping is all I think about – for both baby and myself. All the books said that at 3 months, my baby would start to get into a nighttime routine and sleep longer lengths, but for us, it seemed to be getting worse. Charlotte was waking every 3 hours demanding to be fed. She slept with a pacifier, which put her to sleep immediately, but as soon as it fell out, she would yell until I plugged her back in. We had her in a cradle in our room, and she would wake at the slightest creak of floor, or sniffle of nose. I felt like a prisoner. I was a walking zombie, impatient, cranky, and frazzled.

Enter Ayleen Gelbart, RN. We met through my mom group, Perfit Moms, when she came to talk to the group about sleep learning. At the time, I half listened – Charlotte was 10 weeks old and still in her sleepy newborn stage (silly me, I thought that would continue forever haha). When I began to consider sleep training, I reached out to her and I’m so glad that I did! Ayleen has serious credentials – she’s been a Sleep Learning Specialist since 2006 and licensed Registered Pediatric Nurse since 2000. She’s also taken courses in Child Development, Infant feeding, and Pharmacology (to name a few) and she applies that knowledge when working with families. Through her company, ABCSleepyTime Inc., she’s helped countless families with nighttime sleep learning and daytime nap learning. SIGN ME UP!

First, a few points to make about sleep learning…

  • Charlotte was 3.5 months when we began sleep learning. Contrary to popular belief, this is not too young! You can start teaching good sleep habits to newborns and at 10 pounds, you can start teaching baby to sleep longer stretches of time. At this weight, they have enough reserves to sustain them through big stretches and ultimately, the night.
  • I do not believe in “cry it out.” And fortunately, neither does Ayleen. I wanted to teach Charlotte how to sleep at night without having her go into meltdown mode. I can’t handle the tears, it breaks my heart! Ayleen’s method is incredibly gentle, with minimal crying. Some tears are inevitable though as you are changing the baby’s routine.
  • GET RID OF THE PACIFIER FOR SLEEP! This was the toughest habit to break. We ended up going cold turkey and braced for a few days of bad sleep. But once she got used to the “new normal,” her sleep was so much less disrupted!
  • You have to be prepared to temporarily give up some freedom. The first few weeks were a major adjustment – bedtime was at 6pm and I tracked everything from awake time, sleep time, poops and feedings. The time between awake and asleep can be quite short depending on the age of the baby and requires dedication and routine. This really limited what I could do during the day (temporarily), which I found frustrating at first. But once I saw the results – it was worth it!

The first thing Ayleen did was to do a thorough analysis of Charlotte’s environment and overall behaviour. From there, she gave me a personalized plan to follow as well as daily support during our 3 weeks working together.

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Outfit & hair band from TicTacBow

Charlotte’s main issue was that she wasn’t getting enough daytime sleep, which was accounting for her frequent wakings at night. So my goal in the first week was to get her to nap as much as possible during the day. At the time, this meant limiting the amount of time she was awake. I honestly felt like I was always putting her to bed! We did 4 naps a day until we got the 4-5 hours of day sleep that babies her age need.

The second issue was the multiple feedings at night. Ayleen asked me why I was nursing her each time she woke up and I said it was because I assumed she was hungry. Wrong! Charlotte was waking out of habit, for comfort and because she had not yet learned HOW to sleep on her own or put herself back to sleep on her own. Babies wake multiple times through the night, but they put themselves back to sleep (much the same way adults do). So the goal here was to teach Charlotte how to sleep and fall back asleep without me intervening.

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Creeping on my kid while she sleeps. If you’re going to sleep train, invest in a video camera for peace of mind!

This wasn’t easy, but Charlotte took to the structure and routine that Ayleen offered right away! Rather than rush in as soon as the baby squawked, I waited the amount of time that Ayleen advised. If Charlotte fell back asleep then she wasn’t really hungry. If she started to whine and it built into a certain kind of cry, I could check in but not pick her up. FYI – this is an extremely simplified version of the “routine” – I promised Ayleen I wouldn’t give away all of her secrets 😉

Sure enough, within 2 weeks of sleep learning, Charlotte started doing 10-13 hours nights without waking. Every morning, I was greeted with a big smile and giggles. She’s also learned how to nap very well on her own and typically sleeps for 1-2 hours per nap. Though they can be a bit wonky (damn you teething!), overall, my happy baby is well rested and so am I! My anxiety and exhaustion has decreased and I feel so much more patient and relaxed. Developmentally, at 4 months, Charlotte has cut her first tooth, can roll over, “talks” to us, laughs, smiles, grabs at objects she wants and is learning how to crawl. I attribute all of that to a well-rested child.

Charlotte didn’t come with a user manual, but with Ayleen’s help, I managed to figure out how to hack the sleep game.

 

Need sleep help? Ayleen of ABCSleepytime Inc.  works remotely, so she’s able to help tired families all over the world!

Click HERE to visit her website for more information and LIKE her Facebook page!

 

Are you a tired mom? Want to commiserate? Or, do you have a burning sleep question? Let’s talk in the comments below!

 

 

 

 

5 Reasons I’m Thankful for Charlotte

‘Tis the season to be thankful and my heart couldn’t be more full of gratitude. 2017 has given us the beautiful gift of Charlotte, the luxury of enjoying our time with her, a new house and has changed our marriage in so many profound ways.

 

There are probably a million reasons why Patrick and I are so thankful to have Charlotte in our life, but here are the top 5 that my grateful, love-riddled mind came up with.

(Scroll down for bonus reason #6 to be thankful! Hint: it’s a coupon code to shop Charlotte’s outfit, courtesy of Petit Atelier Enfant!)

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Shop Charlotte’s outfit courtesy of Petit Atelier Enfant
  1. She brings us so much laughter. I don’t think Pat and I have ever laughed as much as we have with Charlotte. Sometimes her expressions or sound effects are so hilarious, it literally makes us laugh-cry. You can’t help but smile when she throws you a gummy grin! And when she starts to giggle uncontrollably, her infectious laughter makes us double over.
  2. She has taught me the power of my own strength. I never considered myself an exceptionally brave or strong person (I’m stubborn, there’s a difference). But going surviving childbirth, sleep deprivation and chomped up nipples has made me feel powerful and strong, like I can do anything.
  3. She makes me feel like I’m the most important person in the room. All you parents will agree…there is nothing like your little baby grabbing your face and staring into your eyes. Charlotte will stroke my cheek and gaze into my eyes and the world melts away. I love the way that her eyes search for me when she’s being held by others, or how she tracks my movement when she’s sitting in in her activity chair.
  4. She has changed our days so profoundly. Honestly, we don’t even remember what we did without her. Seriously, what did we do with all that spare time? How did we have any fun before we worked book-reading and tummy time and baths into our routine?
  5. She reminds us what life is really about. It’s not about work or money, or any of the millions of little dramas that happen on a daily basic. Life is about family and love and all that good stuff. The rest is just details.
  6. BONUS reason to be thankful! Petit Atelier Enfant is giving you 10% off their online store to shop beautiful, designer children’s clothes. I love their unique pieces! They’re comfy, super cool and one-of-a-kind.

    Use coupon code: JEN10. 

    (Coupon is valid for 1 time use, until October 27)

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What are you thankful for?

 

Share in the comments below!

The Coolest Baby on the Block

Before Charlotte, I never subscribed to the phrase “less is more.” For me, more has always been more! Why buy one pair of shoes, when you can have two? I don’t just want a new top, but a whole new outfit and bag to go with. Of course baby girl would have mountains of clothes, new outfits everyday and accessories to match. But as Charlotte quickly outgrew her substantial newborn wardrobe, I realized that most outfits had only been worn once or twice. What a waste!

With that in mind, I decided to do better. I set out to find clothes that fulfilled a few requirements. Firstly, with sleep training Charlotte (more on that in a later post), I needed outfits that weren’t super fussy and would transition easily from sleep to play. Secondly, I like clothes that don’t look like baby clothes – no cheesy slogans or silly cartoon characters. Thirdly, with Charlotte outgrowing outfits within 2 weeks, I was struck with the question of what to do with everything? I decided that I wanted to have more quality items for Charlotte, and that I wanted them to be local.

That’s when I came across Miles Baby. I have a personal connection to the brand as one of my favourite former co-workers, Marie-Helene, is the artistic director. She is super talented and I love her modern aesthetic. Miles Baby is cool, very cool. It’s playful and comfy and inspired by the neighborhoods that we all live in. What I love about the brand is that they seek to encourage local commerce and celebrate our communities.

Scroll down for a FREE SHIPPING COUPON!

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Nothing better than baby toes! Wearing the Playblock leggings from Miles Baby

 

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Wearing the Splashed Tunic & Playblock legging from Miles Baby

Charlotte is wearing pieces from the “From the Block Collection.” I love that they have a bit of an edge and don’t look like your typical childrenswear. Inspired by play blocks and buildings in our neighborhoods, the collection is playful and loungy, unisex and super cool.

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Wearing the Miles Baby Neighborhood Top & Pompom Hat

BTW, Miles Baby has given me a sweet coupon for FREE SHIPPING!

Use coupon code: jenxmiles

Limit 1 per customer, Valid in Canada & USA only. No expiry!

 

I love supporting small, local businesses and hope you will too!