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!

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!

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!