How to Choose a Newborn Photographer

There is nothing more precious than the first moments in your little one’s life. At any moment, our second little girl will be here and I don’t want to miss a thing. With Charlotte, I thought I had done a good job capturing every second, but there were definitely some opportunities I missed –  like the famous newborn photoshoot! Because we had so many breastfeeding issues (read about them here), I didn’t get my act together until about 6 weeks to take infant pictures of Charlotte. Although I adore them, looking back, I wish I had captured her as a sleepy, swaddled, squishy brand-new baby.

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Charlotte at 6 weeks old – taken by our friend Sandra Milioto. Our little baby bear – I love this picture of her so much!

This time around, I’ve already booked a newborn photographer – Tanis Saucier. Based in Montreal-area from her full-service studio, she’s been working with newborns and their families for over 10 years. As a mom herself, and a former elementary school teacher, she understands how quickly babies and children change and is passionate about helping parents remember every sweet detail. I honestly teared up looking at her portfolio, imagining my new little babe all wrapped and posed.

Images © Tanis Saucier Montreal Newborn Photography

For other moms looking to take studio newborn photography of their bundles of joy, here are some words of advice from Tanis:

  1. When to schedule: Newborn sessions work best with babies 14 days and younger (ideally between day 5-10). During this time, newborns are sleepier, and still have that instinct to curl up.
  2. Photo inspiration: Tanis always scheduled a conversation before the photoshoot takes place to get an idea of what kind of photos a parent is looking for. Will there be a sibling involved? Do you only want pictures of the baby? What colors/poses do you like?
  3. What to bring: No need to bring anything with you for your newborn. Tanis will have everything you need – including props, bonnets, blankets, outfits and headbands. You will need to bring a backup shirt for the parents, as accidents definitely happen.
  4. During the session: The newborn session lasts about 2-3 hours. Once you arrive, feed the baby so that it will be nice and sleep for the photos. Tanis will pose and handle your baby with the utmost care, capturing closeups of tiny toes, lips, lashes and fingers.

 

There’s so much more that goes into a newborn photoshoot! Talk to the pro, Tanis Saucier, and she’ll be able to answer all of your burning questions. You can find her on Instagram at: @tanissaucierphotography

 

As for me, I can’t wait to share our little girl’s name & photos!!! Stay tuned 🙂 

REAL TALK: Did you take newborn photos of your little ones?

 

Plus Mommy Podcast

You know when you meet someone and you just feel like you’ve known them forever? That’s how I felt when I “met” Jen McLellan, aka Plus Mommy, aka the plus size pregnancy guru. Jen and I connected through Tess Holliday, plus size model/author/mom, when we organized an informal Instagram live chat about postpartum anxiety (Tess and I both suffered from PPA). And how do I know Tess? Through my work, of course. Phew! That’s a lot of background info!

Anyways, Jen has a super fabulous podcast called “The Plus Mommy” which covers topics around plus size pregnancy. Her website, Plus Size Birth, provides positive resources for plus size people who are trying to conceive or pregnant – form where to find plus size maternity clothes to connecting with a size-friendly care provider and so much more!

I was beyond thrilled when Jen asked me to come on her podcast to chat about my experience – from conception, to pregnancy, to delivery and postpartum. It honestly felt like chatting with an old friend. I’ve talked about my pregnancy experience HERE, but it was interesting to examine it through the lens of a plus size woman.

Video courtesy of Plus Mommy

I could transcribe the entire podcast here because it’s too fantastic to not share, but I’ll save it for the sound byte.

You can listen to Jen & I chat HERE. Scroll down to the bottom for audio.

You can also listen on ITUNES!

 

Real Talk: Did you have a plus size pregnancy? What were some of the misconceptions you had?

 

#NoMakeup

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

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

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

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

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Makeup free and 37 weeks pregnant

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

Charlotte Adele

Introducing…Charlotte Adele

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

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Our New Little Family – Charlotte at 1 Day Old

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

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Trying to relax in backyard at 40 week, 2 days

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

9 Months of Fashion

9 Months of Fashion – What I Wore During My Pregnancy

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

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

1 Month Pregnant

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

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

2 Months Pregnant

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

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

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

3 Months Pregnant

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

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Borrowed – similar here!

4 Months Pregnant

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

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

5 Months Pregnant

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

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Sweater: Old Navy (sold out – similar here)

6 Months Pregnant

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

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

7 Months Pregnant

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

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Dress: Addition Elle / Shoes: Topshop

8 Months Pregnant

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

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

9 Months Pregnant

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

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

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Dress: Asos Maternity (similar here)

Our Pregnancy Story

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Somewhere on I-95 – driving home from Florida

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

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

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

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

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

XXX

Jen