Time Needs to Stop + Contest!

How is it that Charlotte is going into her 4th month of life? Time needs to stop. Seriously. It seems like she’s always been as big as she is right now, but as I look back on pictures, I find it hard to believe that she was once so small, and so squished. Everyone said it, but treasure the time you have with your wee ones. Although you may be dying of exhaustion, crazy with their screams and completely bewildered about how you will survive, absorb every moment with your little darling.

One of the things that never ceases to amaze me about Charlotte is how she’ll go to sleep one way and wake-up to be a whole new baby! What I mean is, she literally learns how to do things in her sleep. Overnight, she goes from random movements, to determined motion. Seemingly, out of nowhere, she’ll grasp at colorful objects she used to stare at and promptly put them in her mouth. Or, she goes to sleep and the next day, she knows how to flip over! What is going on in that crazy brain of hers?!

At 3.5 months, I started introducing more toys to Charlotte that encouraged her new sensory skills. Of course, it was by putting my crazy Google-hat on that I came across KidzDistrict. What I love about their company is that they search for the most innovative, high quality products and they’re based in Canada. Whoo hoo! They introduced me to DOLCE, the cutest plush toys that combine playing and learning.

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Those cheeks! Just want to kiss them and squeeze them!
D.O.L.C.E stands for Develop, Observe, Learn, Create, Educate. One of Charlotte’s favorite toys right now is the Dolce Play & Learn Whale. It’s perfect for teaching hand-eye co-ordination and fine and gross motor skills. Crinkle fins, teether, embroidery and squeakers all add to the fun and learning.

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Discovering her Dolce – Play & Learn Whale
I reached out to my friends at KidzDistrict because I knew that all of you lovely followers might want one of these super-toys too! So, together we’re giving away the very adorable Dolce Play and Learn Monkey. It’s my very first contest, yay!

Here’s how to enter:

  1. Like @justjenp and @kidzdistrict on Instagram.

  2. Find the post with this picture. 

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  3. Tag a friend who might like this monkey!

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    Dolce – Play and Learn Monkey, available at KidzDistrict

Easy right? I’ll be choosing the winner at random on Instagram on October 5th. Good luck everyone!

 

Charlotte at 3 Months

Time is moving at warp speed! Seems like just yesterday our little bundle of joy was coming home from the hospital. She was so tiny and fragile and we were equal parts terrified, determined and in awe of her. Fast forward 3 months and Charlotte is entertaining us with adorable performances of smiles, gurgles, squeals and coos. She kicks and grabs and our breastfeeding relationship is better than ever.

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Always talking! Just like her Mother…

It’s amazing how fast they develop and how quickly they pick up new skills. Last week, Charlotte’s hands would flail about at random, but now she holds them together like she’s praying, shoves them in her mouth and grabs things out of our hands! Seemingly out of nowhere, she started to drool and blow spit bubbles (oh great, teething in starting). And she’s started swaying from side to side on her back and pulling her feet up. Any moment she’s going to roll.

As a mother, I’m feeling more confident in my abilities and have cobbled together a schedule that seems to work for us. It required giving up some freedom and sticking to scheduled naps and bedtime, but it’s made the days more predictable for Charlotte and has lessened her mood swings (damn Gemini baby!) In terms of mommytime, I’ve been out a few times without the baby, I’ve joined a few mom groups that have been welcoming and supportive and have even started writing pro-bono for a friend’s publication.

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Having breakfast with my 2 loves

The months past haven’t all been sunshine and roses. The sleep deprivation is unrelenting. Charlotte hasn’t mastered the art of napping yet, refusing to go down more than 40 minutes at a time. This makes for one cranky baby by days end! She’s also developed an addiction to the pacifier and is unable to sleep without it. This means on top of feeding her twice a night, I’m up 10 times popping the thing back in her mouth after she spits it out. Very annoying! I’ve tried to stop giving it to her cold turkey, but she still hasn’t learned to self-sooth, so she’ll cry her eyes out for what feels like hours. And that, of course, makes me cry too. Any tips?

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Oh hey there! Just hanging out doing some tummy time

What has saved me the last 3 months has been the support of family. We are so lucky to have my parents and my mother-in-law close-by and not a day goes by where I’m not checking in. From asking them advice like “Does this poop look weird” or being able to vent “She won’t nap and it’s driving me crazy,” they have shared their wisdom and humor and made this crazy parenting adventure a little less scary. Oh, and they also make sure we are fed and that our house isn’t a pigsty. Thanks for that!

Going forward, we’ll need their help more than ever since we’ve officially SOLD OUR HOUSE! Details to come in a subsequent blogpost.

Any advice for a new mom? Care to share your 3 month sleep tips? Comment below!

No Rest for the Wicked

I am sleep obsessed. I find myself dreaming about a king size bed, with silky, white sheets, mountains of pillows, and a heavy, warm duvet. I spend my whole day wondering when I will get back to bed, how many hours of sleep I will get, and how rested I will feel the next morning.

Alas, sleep has eluded me for the last 2 1/2 months, which has only deepened my obsession. Now I obsess over my baby’s sleep. When to put her down, when to wake her up, how many minutes she’s napping, how many hours she’s sleeping. In the wee hours of the morning, I’ve googled countless ways on how to get your baby to sleep longer and have ordered hundreds of dollars of books. I now understand why they use sleep deprivation as a torture technique…

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Charlotte at 9 days old enjoy a joint nap after feeding.

After we brought Charlotte home from the hospital and got into our rhythm, I thanked my lucky stars that she wasn’t a colicky or reflux baby. Like most newborns, she was very sleepy and very hungry. Every 2 hours she wanted a snack, followed by a long nap. I thought naively, “Yay! My baby loves to sleep, this will be a breeze!” FALSE. Babies lull you into a false sense of security before they quickly change into zombie demons that refuse to sleep, no matter how hard you try.

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The irony of this picture amuses me

After complaining to nearly everyone I knew, many suggested that I pick up “The Happiest Baby on the Block” by Dr Harvey Karp. One of the most-trusted pediatricians and child development experts, Dr Karp developed the 5 S’s to help calm babies and get them to sleep longer. He claims that babies are born 3 months too early and experience a 4th trimester from 0-3 months. During this time, calming womb-like sensations will quiet a baby and get them to relax. These include Swaddling, Side-Stomach Position, Shushing, Swinging and Sucking. I found that using a combo of these techniques, I was able to get Charlotte to sleep and to stay asleep!

My little one seemed to have mutant strength when I attempted to swaddle her and no matter what I put her in, Charlotte would burst out. As a newborn, I decided to try the SwaddleMe Pods. With it’s simple zip-up closure, it provides a cozy womb-like feeling which is ideal for newborns. I lovingly referred to this as a baby condom. After about 6 weeks, Charlotte was getting a bit big for them and I switched to the Aden and Anais Easy Swaddle, a 100% cotton muslin with simple, adjustable snaps. The combination of swaddling with lying her on her side or holding her on her side with her stomach against mine relaxes her immediately.

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SwaddleMe Pods
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Aden & Anais Easy Swaddle

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

It seems counterintuitive, but babies sleep better with lots of noise! In your womb, they are constantly bombarded with noise like blood rushing through your veins and your heartbeat. Using a sound machine that has white noise reminds your baby of your cozy womb and will quiet them (I also found the vacuum and static on the TV to be quite useful!) I like the Skip Hop Nightlight Soother since you can set it on continuous and play soothing noises all night long. Once I turn it on, it’s Charlotte’s cue to sleep and she’ll close her eyes #babygenius!

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Skip Hop Nightlight Soother, Moonlight and Melodies

Nap times have always been hit or miss. Charlotte is so darn sociable that she gets FOMO (Fear Of Missing Out) when she closes her eyes, especially during the day. The only way to get her to nap is to put her in her swing. The movement reminds babies of the constant motion in the womb. From the start, Charlotte loved the 4moms Rockaroo Swing (thanks work friends for buying this!) She would do 2-3 hour naps in it and wake up happy as can be.

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4moms Rockaroo Swing

And finally, sucking. My lactation consultant was adamant to not introduce a pacifier until breastfeeding was established, around 6 weeks. YA RIGHT! Have you ever experienced the magic of the pacifier? A screaming infant will go from inconsolable to calm in an instant. I gave in around the 3 week mark when Charlotte’s screams were ear shattering. I liked the Philps Avent Orthodonic Pacifier because it can be used right side up or upside down – particularly helpful when you’re reaching in the backseat to plug it back in your baby’s mouth.

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Philps Avent Orthodonic Pacifier

The combination of these S’s has helped me immensely! But by far, my most favorite technique of getting Charlotte to sleep is what I call the “off button.” Did you know that if you stroke down ababy’s forehead to the tip of their nose, they will close their eyes? It’s a biological reflex and SUPER helpful when your little one keeps popping their eyes open. #THEMOREYOUKNOW

Wishing you sweet dreams!

 

Want to share your sleep story or comisserate over sleep deprivation? Send me your thoughts in the comments below!

 

 

 

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.

 

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!

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

 

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!