Embracing the Mom Bod

My Florida vacation this winter looked idyllic. Sunshine and sand, what more can a girl want? But the truth is, I struggled. I was 6.5 months postpartum and it was the first time that I stopped to think about myself. I hadn’t really thought about my body much since giving birth. During pregnancy, I was both in awe and annoyed with my body. I loved its new shape, the hard round bump, the soft skin, the perky boobs. But the constant aches and pains and the loss of coordination was very annoying for someone who likes to be in control of all things. Then baby comes and your body does amazing things like creating a human and creating sustenance to feed her. I still can’t quite wrap my head around it.

I lost all my baby weight thanks to breastfeeding and new mommy anxiety. Unfortunately, as I’ve weaned Charlotte from 8-10 times a day of nursing to just 3, the weight isn’t melting off like it used to. So I found myself in Florida, in bathing suit weather, dreading exposing my new body. Over the last 32 years, I’ve come to terms with my voluptuous shape…but it’s been tight and firm. Now, after childbirth, my skin doesn’t have the same elasticity as it used to. My tummy hangs lower, my face droops, I have new back rolls and my hips have extra padding. New purple and blue veins have appeared on my thighs and behind my knees. And the stretch marks that I’ve been used to since puberty have become red and angry.

For the first time, in a long time, I found myself feeling extremely uncomfortable in anything other than long sleeves and yoga pants. When did I become that person? I LOVE fashion, I LIVE fashion, I WORK in fashion! I absolutely loved getting dressed up in the latest and greatest…but that was before baby. Now, as I am, I still don’t recognize my body. And putting on a bathing suit in Florida was feeling super traumatic.

But I did it anyways, because I was damned that I was going to miss out on a fun time with my family, just because of a little cellulite and saggy skin. I am more than just my physical appearance, and to those that love me, like my daughter, I am everything. She doesn’t know the difference from before and after. She loves my soft sports, my warm embrace, my strong arms that carry her. So I vowed to focus on her and focus on fun. “I will wear this bathing suit and enjoy myself, dammit!”

I had on one of my fave Addition Elle swimsuits and asked my brother to take a pic because in that moment, I was feeling very Instagram worthy! The rock was calling for a Little Mermaid moment. He took about 20 different version and I hated them all. I couldn’t stop fixating on the double tummy, the back fat and chubby arms. But, even though I was embarrassed, I still wanted to share!

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Wow, your comments blew me away! They say the internet can be a mean, judgemental place…but thankfully (so far) it’s been nothing but supportive and understanding. So many moms reached out to encourage me and share their own body confidence struggles post-baby. I had to follow-up the original post with another.

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Am I 100% OK with all the physical changes since having a baby? Nope, definitely not. I still probably cry once a week thinking I’ll never have the same confidence again. But, it’s a choice to live life and own it, or to let our insecurities hold us back. So, I am embracing the Mom bod and resolving to stay positive about myself, no matter what. What kind of role model would I be for my baby girl if I didn’t practice what I preach?

REAL TALK: How do you feel about your body post-baby? Do you feel confident? Do you love the new you? SHARE below!

#BreastfeedingStruggles

Breastfeeding is hard. You may have read about my struggles early on; Charlotte had a tongue tie and a lip tie and my nipples were ruined. I would bite down on my lip in agony every time she would latch! But since then, Charlotte and I have developed a nice routine. I nurse her three times a day – in the morning when she wakes up, before her lunch and right before bed.

Despite the sense of pride and accomplishment that I feel for having made it to this point, there are so many difficult moments that moms endure during their journey. Even though I may feel like somewhat of an expert, the breastfeeding struggle is still real! Hope that fellow BF moms can related to these funny (and painful!) struggles.

  1. My wardrobe lately is based on whether or not I can pull my boob out of my clothing easily and quickly. Thank god nursing clothes have gotten so much cuter! Enter my sorority sister, Britt. This badass momtrepeneur is the founder of Lark & Lux and the creator of the Melly (aka my new fave dress). It’s perfect for all-sized mamas (from sizes 4-20) as it’s made of super luxe bamboo fabric with incredible stretch and softness. And there’s a built-in bra that keeps the ta-tas contained and comfy. Honestly, this is probably the most versatile piece in my wardrobe. Feeding your baby shouldn’t have to mean sacrificing your personal style and The Melly lets me #feedfearlessly wherever my day takes me. As special treat to you all, Lark & Lux is offering you 15% off your very own Melly dress. At checkout, use code: JUSTJEN15. (Offer valid until May 31, 2018).

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    Wearing the Melly Dress in navy & white stripe by Lark & Lux. Available in size small (size 4-6) to extra-large (size 16-20). For all you plus size moms, I’m wearing the XL for a looser fit. P.S. I like the way that Charlotte is coping a feel here. 
  2. I am NOT a punching bag! Does anyone elses’ child smack their boobs when they are hungry? Or, squeeze them while they’re nursing to get the milk out faster? I swear, I have never been as abused as I have been while nursing Charlotte. She scratches my chest, pinches my underboob, pulls my hair and fish-hooks my bottom lip with her finger. She is a beast!
  3. The first time I discovered that OMG this kid bites! As you may know, Charlotte is a super early teether. She had 7 teeth by the time she was 6 months old. As you can imagine, she tested those little chompers out on my nips. Word of advice: if you child tries to bite you, push her head into your breast. You want her to be as uncomfortable as possible (maybe even gasp for breath a little – I know, I know, horrible mom!) But trust me, it will get them to stop nibbling at your bosoms.
  4. Niplash. Enough said.niplash
  5. I’ve learnt that I can perform any task with a baby hanging from my boob. I’ve made coffee while breastfeeding, answered the door, made phonecalls…hell, I’ve even peed while breastfeeding (hey, you gotta go when you gotta go, right mamas?)
  6. I HATE PUMPING! Major props to all the pumpers out there, but I hate that damn machine. The whirling of the motor will haunt my dreams. I tried to avoid it as much as possible, but it did come in handy when I was weaning from 8-10 feeds daily to 6-8, then 4-6, then 4, and now 3. And now I have quite the stash of milk, which is useful. But, there is nothing more unpleasant than pumping before bed and then cleaning the damn tubes and shields.
  7. Do you boobs hang low, do they wobble to-and-fro? Can you tie ’em in a knot, can you tie ’em in a bow? My initially perky nursing boobs have pretty much drooped to my ankles by month 10. On the bright side, I’ll always know which way is South!

Real talk: Got a biter? Are you over nursing bras? Do you hate pumping with a passion? Share your own breastfeeding struggles below!

You Know You’re a Mom When…

I was laughing with some friends the other day as we compared baby notes. We were in hysterics over how we run towards vomit instead of away from it like we used to. It got me to thinking about all the ways you know you’re a mom. So here, presented in good humor, are 25 clear signs you’re a mother…

  1. You’ve been washing the same load of laundry for three days because you forgot to dry it.
  2. It’s not only normal that you pick up another human to smell their butt, it’s a necessity.
  3. You only shower when you know you’ll be leaving your house, or when you’re expecting company.
  4. All of your fantasies involve sleeping uninterrupted.
  5. Going to the grocery store by yourself feels like a vacation.
  6. You have the ability to hear a sneeze through a closed door, down the hall, in the middle of the night, while your hubby snores next to you.
  7. You wish there was drive through EVERYTHING.
  8. When you don’t even flinch after realizing that you’ve gone the whole day with a mystery stain on your shirt that suspiciously looks like poop or puke, or both!
  9. You get excited about picking someone else’s nose and/or sucking their snot.
  10. Whenever you take a shower, you can swear you can hear your child crying, but when you turn off the water, there’s only silence.
  11. Your kids are dressed beautifully and ready to go, and you’re still in pyjamas.
  12. You make the baby an organic meal, and you’re surviving on coffee and cookies.
  13. You realize you’re swaying, without holding your baby!
  14. You will literally strangle whoever rang the doorbell while your child was napping.
  15. You find yourself talking about poop in public, again…
  16. Your idea of working out is lugging the baby carrier, diaper bag and portable activity center in and out of the car.
  17. You cry at every diaper commercial.
  18. You have entire Pinterest boards devoted to crafts and DIYs and you never actually get around to doing them.
  19. You take it personally when a stranger doesn’t wave back to your baby.
  20. Coffee is now one of your love languages.
  21. You find yourself humming “Old McDonald Had A Farm”, or “Twinkle, Twinkle”.
  22. You know all the words from your kids’ talking toys (“Have you met my friend the red fish?” or, “thanks for calling!”)
  23. You deleted apps on your phone so that you can take more pictures of your kid.
  24. Being in the car alone is exciting.
  25. When CEO’s can learn a thing or two about how much you can multi-task.

REAL TALK: Add your own! What are some of the ways that you know you’re a mom? Share below!

Green Eyed Monster

I have never been a jealous person. Most of my life, I’ve marched to the beat of my own drum. I’ve never lacked for anything and anything I’ve wanted, I’ve gone out and gotten it for myself. I’ve made my own path and never felt the need to compare myself to others. I’m a leader, not a follower. But all that changed once I had a baby…

Throughout my pregnancy, I was obsessed with being “normal.” I had heard such awful stories about getting pregnant, staying pregnant and delivering. Nobody talks about the mundane facts of pregnancy, they only discuss the worst case scenario. I was terrified something was going to be wrong with me. I worried that I would get diabetes, or hypertension, or have to have a C-section and feel everything, or I would miscarry. All I wanted at every appointment was for the doctor to tell me everything was normal. I wanted the baby to develop normally. I wanted the pregnancy to be normal and I wanted the delivery to be normal.

But once baby was here, normal was not a word I wanted to hear. To me, Charlotte is the most exquisite creature in the entire universe. She is one-of-a-kind. The most special, perfect, beautiful baby that there ever was and will ever will be. And everything she does is magical and meaningful. Clearly, I am drunk on mom love here…Anyways, in my eyes she is perfect, and I want everyone to know that. When the doctor checked her over at our first pediatrician appointment, I beamed from ear-to-ear when he said that Charlotte was special – so alert, so sweet, so patient. When she got her first tooth at 3 months, other moms were amazed (I’ve heard early teething is a sign of genius, am I right?) And when I tell other moms how she sleeps through the night, every night, I see their envy.

As a mom, it’s impossible not to compare yourself to others when every book, blog, magazine and podcast is telling you which milestones matter and how to get your child there faster. Competition is fierce and leaves us feeling jealous. I’ve never been more insecure in my life. Am I feeding her properly? Is the car seat installed right? Am I a bad parent if my child doesn’t walk at 8 months? Did I fail as a mother if she can’t yet clap or blow kisses? The constant questioning swirls around in my head most of my waking hours.

Like any millenial mom, I turn to social media to test the waters. But I find myself becoming even more anxious! Some of my friend’s babies are already pulling up and standing and others have mastered crawling (Charlotte prefers army crawl and rolling to get where she wants to go). Instantly my mind goes to two places: 1) Is it normal that my kid isn’t doing those things? And, 2) What did I do wrong as a mother that my kid isn’t doing those things too! Our child is clearly the most special to us, but if they don’t do it first, or best, are they really that special? And if we, as mothers, can’t get them to that point, did we fail?

I recently texted a friend to tell her that I was jealous her baby was pulling up and standing. “Chill,” she said, “There is no ‘normal’…babies do what they want, when they want. I’m sure people are jealous of Charlotte’s eating, or how many teeth she has! I remember thinking I wasn’t feeding baby enough when I saw one of your Insta stories.” I honestly hadn’t looked at it that way, so thanks buddy!

So where does this sense of jealousy and competition come from? What exactly are we competing for? To rush our babies into the next step without enjoying what’s in front of us? The days are long but the years are short, and before we know it, our kids are all grown up and refusing extra kisses and hugs. If Charlotte isn’t yet mobile, that means more opportunity for snuggles and squeezes. I need to remind myself each day that this isn’t a sprint, it’s a marathon and to enjoy every moment.

 

Real talk: Do you often find yourself jealous of other moms? How do you deal with the competition between other parents?

 

 

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!

 

 

 

 

“Perfit” Mom

I’m feeling super nostalgic. It was a year ago that Charlotte came into being and that I was on a career high. I just finished organizing my second New York Fashion Week show and was headed to Chicago for a meet & greet event with supermodel Ashley Graham. I was exhausted but chalked it up to a crazy work schedule and travel. Little did I know I was preggo!

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In Chicago post NYFW – tired AF and wondering why I’m so hungry…

All week, pics have been popping up on my newsfeed and I hardly recognize the girl in them. She looks rested. Her hair is perfectly coiffed. Her makeup is flawless. Her nails are done. For a second, I miss that girl…but then I remember everything I’ve gained.

The first thing that many people told me when I announced my pregnancy is that I was the type of person to get bored on maternity leave. As I’m known as someone who is always on the go, they felt that the change of pace would cramp my style and I would find staying at home claustrophobic. I would reply, “Naw, you know me! I’ll join a group and sign-up for classes and keep busy.” And that’s exactly what I’ve done!

I’m lucky to live in a community where families rule. The suburbs of Montreal always have something going on for families, whether it be a craft fair, farmer’s market or storytime at the library. I didn’t have to to look far to find something to occupy my time. I remember at around the 2 month mark, I had taken Charlotte out for a walk and was feeling a bit down. I walked around the neighborhood feeling lonely, wishing I had somewhere to go, something to do and people to do it with. Being the type-A girl that I am, I immediately went home and began furiously googling mom groups. I came across a new one that had recently launched called “Perfit Moms“. They held weekly walks, meet-ups and classes. So I jumped with both feet and jumped in.

I connected with away with the founder, Elisabeth. She is a go-getter, and super friendly and welcoming. You know those people that you meet and you feel like you’ve known them forever? That’s how I felt meeting Elisabeth. She started Perfit Moms as an resource for other moms in our area with the hope of building a community of moms helping moms. Weekly meet-ups can be about anything under the sun – nutrition, sleep, sex post baby, and self-defence. The best part, it’s ALL FREE! I was thrilled when Elisabeth asked me to come onboard to help her out, fulfilling my own prophecy of being in a mom group.

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Hanging in the park with some Perfit Moms

Although being Charlotte’s mom is my favourite job of them all, being in this group makes me feel like I’m making a difference and gives me a focus outside of diapers, feedings and bath-time. And that’s ok! I like to be busy, I like to be social and just because I have a baby doesn’t mean I have to sacrifice all of myself for her. By being true to myself and respecting my own desires, I’m a better mommy for Charlotte.

How did you stay true to yourself once you had a baby? I want to know! Share in the comments below!

 

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!