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

 

DIY Flower Initial

Welcome to crafting 101 with Just Jen! I’m no Martha Stewart, but I do enjoy DIYs, especially when they’re this easy.

When we set up the nursery, I knew we’d likely be moving in 3-6 months, so I didn’t want to create something too elaborate. I wanted unique touches that could easily be moved to new digs. This hanging DIY-flower initial is the perfect personal touch to your nursery. Here’s how to do it!

Materials:

  • Your choice of faux flowers
  • Corrugated cardboard
  • Hot glue gun
  • Initial stencil (I found mine here)
  • Ribbon
  • Acrylic paint & paintbrush
  • Scissors
  • Wood skewer

Instructions:

  1. Lay your initial stencil on the corrugated cardboard. Using a wood skewer, trace the outline by puncturing small holes. Cut out your initial with scissors. IMG_5892
  2. Paint your initial the color of your choice – or leave it blank if you prefer.IMG_5897
  3. Cut faux flowers from stem so only the bud remains.IMG_5895
  4. Using your wood skewer, puncture hole in corrugated cardboard and pop flower bud through.IMG_5900
  5. Hot glue the back of the hole and bud.IMG_5899
  6. Repeat until entire letter is covered with flowers. Add ribbon to hang.img_5905.jpgTah-dah! An easy and pretty DIY that perfect for any nursery, and beyond!

    Want to see more crafts? Let me know in the comments below!

 

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

The Story of Jen

Wow, so I’ve finally done it! After years of saying “when I have my own blog…” I’ve pulled the trigger and committed to capturing my life via WordPress. Why was it so difficult to do? After all, I create content for a living and basically live my life online, but there’s something intimate in writing from an “I” perspective, instead of the neutral, corporate tone I’ve come to adopt. This blog is a place where you can get to know me, the real me, and that’s a little scary (but also exciting!)

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Hey guys, here I am!

Let’s back it up and allow myself to introduce…myself. LOL

I’m Jen, 32 years young, living in the suburbs of Montreal, Canada, with my amazing husband and our two cats, Titi and Oscar. I’m currently pregnant, and expecting a baby girl any day now (due date is May 30th).

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Pat and I announcing our pregnancy right before Christmas

I work for Addition Elle, a plus size fashion company, as their Digital Content and Communications Manager. If the name sounds familiar, that’s because you’ve heard of plus size supermodel Ashley Graham who currently designs a lingerie collection for our company. So yes, my job can be glamorous; I’ve produced two New York Fashion Week runway shows, traveled extensively, rubbed shoulders with celebs and enjoyed free swag. But, it’s also down-to-earth; I get to connect to the clients and talk about their needs and wants, their likes and dislikes and have no problem schlepping 5 garment bags through the city while wearing heels. I sincerely love my job, but after working there for 6 years and being married for 4…I was ready for the next step.

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Interviewing Ashley Graham at our NYFW Runway Show in 2016 (little did I know I was about 4 weeks pregnant…) You can see the full clip here

So, Pat and I decided to have a baby (I will dedicate a post to our pregnancy story soon, I promise!) And it got me thinking…I’ve been so focused on myself, my career, my marriage, my wants…could I remain true to myself while having a baby? Can I still be ME and a mom? What parts of me will change? What parts will stay the same? I hope to explore all of this as I blog and would love to have you along for the ride!

I want my blog to be like your most trusted girlfriend – the one that gives you the real deal. Yes, I want to inspire but I also need the real talk because life ain’t always roses and sunshine, right? I want my blog to be honest, down-to-earth and reflect the realities of juggling all the parts of myself – like being a new mom, an intelligent woman, loving wife and full-time fashonista. I want to combine all the things I love into happy place.

Welcome aboard, new and old friends – so glad you came by and can’t wait for us to get to know eachother better. I’d LOVE your feedback, so feel free to share your comments! And of course, you can always find me on Insta @justjenp.

XXX

Jen